Is your Team Losing its Way?

With the 2016 Olympics now on our door step and I’m very excited.  I’m an avid Olympics fan.  I love watching everything.  Celebrating the wins and recognizing the efforts of every athlete regardless of the medal count.   Each country creates a team of athletes who have a common purpose – to represent their country and deliver their best effort in their sport at each and every event.

The motivation and focus of these athletes to the team vision is amazing.  We see other teams like those of the CFL, NHL or NFL or NBA more regularly.  Due to the longer-term focus needed, these teams can demonstrate ups and downs similar to those of us in the workplace.  Team dynamics reflect the mindset, effort and productivity of each and every member of the team.

 

Team dynamics are defined as the unconscious factors that influence how teams interact, communicate and work together to a common goal.

 

Lack of Cohesion

Team dynamics are impacted by the different personalities in the team and the behaviours each team member brings to the job.  Athletes are highly motivated talented individuals who are competitive and want to win.  Losing is not ok.  Working and travelling in a close environment, circles-freealong with pressures from owners, coaches, team mates, the media and fans , as well as families, all come into play in how well a team can create and maintain positive dynamics that allow them to reach their goal.

In the business world, not every employee on a team may have the same inner motivation found on a professional hockey team.  Your team may consist of more leaders than followers, particularly at an executive level, or people who are not completely aligned with the team’s (committee’s) focus and purpose.

When this happens how can you, as the manager or team leader better understand their lack of “buy-in” and help them become engaged and a valuable asset to the team?

Have a Vision and Purpose

Every team is brought together to accomplish a goal.  Does every member of the team know and understand the vision and purpose of the team, and how their actions will make a difference?

Just think of a committee in your workplace.  How many people sit on that committee because “they have to”.  It’s just part of the job description but they’d rather not be there.  Do they complain that its a waste of time? Are they commenting on how their suggestions are ignored?  Are team members engaged and kept accountable to participate and take action?  When these situation exist, a lack of vision and purpose probably exist.

As the team leader, its important for you to understand what each person on your team is thinking and if they are on-board with the vision and purpose.  People always want to know where they are going and why its important. Recognize their efforts and dissenting comments and take the necessary steps to get them back on board.

Communicate Clearly & Often

This may seem like the obvious but all to often the team leader fails to keep communication open.Communication bubble ID-10060415  Communication is more than telling people what to do and when.  Instead it includes conversations with the team collectively, as well as with each individual team member.

A leaders role is to inspire others to think strategically within the terms of reference of the team/committee.  When you help them see the big picture, they are better able to understand how their role fits in and can make a difference.

Listening to the different perspectives and suggestions is critical.  It’s not your role to be right. It’s your role to lead the team to the right outcome.  Sometimes your original plan needs to be reassessed along the way when new information comes to light.

“Deep and sustainable change…requires changes in behavior among those who do not welcome the change.” ? Douglas B. Reeves

 

Is your team lacking focus?  Do you want to identify ways to better lead your team to be more productive and engaged?   Contact us to see how our solutions may assist you.

Building Team Focus

I’ve written before about how important it is for a team to have a common focus in order to be successful.  This is one area where diversity of though is not good.

 The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.  You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.  — Babe Ruth

Once a team culture is created it can be a challenge to change, yet it is possible to improve it.  In their book, The Discipline of Teams, Katzenback and Smith stated, “teams have four elements—common commitment and purpose, performance goals, complementary skills, and mutual accountability.”

Does your team have a common commitment and purpose?  If not, you have a group of individuals not a team.   Teams are link jigsaw puzzles, they fit together and interlock to create the bigger picture.  One broken or missing piece leaves aConnected team-StuartMiles_ID-100146283 gap.

High performance teams adopt the four elements of a team.  They come together for a common purpose, remain focused on that purpose as a collective.   As a leader of a team, your role is to help every team member identify the
key purpose and operating principles of the team.

  • Why is the team together?
  • What is the purpose of the team?
  • Who is responsible for what tasks and actions?
  • How will the collective results create a positive impact on the organization?

 

Aim higher. Stay focused.  — Brandon Adams

The vision and operating principles are created by the group as a first step in achieving a common focus and commitment from each member of the team.

Secondly, high performing teams revisit their operating principles regularly.  Are they still applicable.  What, if any, changes are needed and why?   When changes are needed, its important to understand why the changes are needed.

Lastly, it is important for each member of the team to be held accountable to the operating principles.  As discussed in the post “One Bad Apple – Can One Person Impact a Team” when a team member goes rogue, the focus and productivity of the entire team can be negatively impacted.

A point for Team Leads

If your team cannot see how their efforts are helping the entire organization and how working together is good for each individual as well as the team, there is work to be done to build a high performance team.  Consider a dedicated meeting to address the differences, gaps and challenges, identify solutions and celebrate what’s working well.  Team leader trust and transparency can make all the difference in this process.  You must also demonstrate you are on the same page with your team, supportive and willing to pitch in.  Remember, great leaders lead by example.

Is your team focus waivering?  We can help you be a better leader, build trust and engagement through focused conversations, leadership coaching and training.  Ask us how one of our solutions could benefit your team. 

One Bad Apple – Can One Person Imact Team Success?

Can one person impact the dynamics of a team? Absolutely!

“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi

We only have to look at our work environments or sports teams for examples.

Recently, the Montreal Canadiens traded P.J. Subban for Shae Webber which shocked many fans.  P.J. was a key part of the Montreal hockey team, very active in the community and a fan favourite.  Why would they trade away a key resource?  Some say the downturn in the teams performance on the ice wasn’t related to the loss of the goalie. Instead it was reflective of strained dynamics in the locker room.  Webber brings a leadership component which is needed to ensure this decline in performance doesn’t happen again.

Another example is here in B.C. with our football team, the B.C. Lions.  For the past two years we had two new head coaches and results were a complete reversal of prior performance.  This year, former head coach and GM, Wally Buono returned to the sidelines and its like watching a different team.  Reports are Buono treats every player the same- whether they are a rookie or a veteran.  He also has the same expectations — come to practice and games prepared to work and give it their best effort.

Although these are sports examples, the same occurs in business.  A negative nellie can ruin a motivated and productive team.  A leader who lacks trust in their team can lose the respect of team members and morale will drop, leading to turnover, poor productivity, conflict and more.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie

Here are three ways you can ensure that one bad apple doesn’t ruin your team’s efforts.

  1.  Create a positive culture with a strong vision, mission and purpose.    If a team lacks focus or understanding of their role and what’s expected of them, they will flounder.  Each member of a team needs to have a role and understand how their role is part of the whole.  The team leader may not always be the manager or coach.  Sometimes it will be a member of the team who will have the most impact on ensuring everyone stays on track.   No matter who or why the team isn’t on track, we do know that a team that attracts the very best and deals with negative nellies before they do damage.
  2. Take action fast when ‘negative nellie’ shows up!  If a team member is not embracing the roles and behaviours acceptable to the team, its important to step in and address it quickly.  Feedback is one of the most effective ways to address negativity or a lack of engagement.  A conversation with the team member is vital for them to recognize the impact of their behaviour or actions on the entire team, and to identify a solution to the issue.  Sometimes the ‘negative nellie’ has to be removed from the team so that other members can achieve their best.
  3. Recognize differences and outcomes.   Every team is made up of different personalities and people with different perspectives.  It is this diversity that adds to the strength of the team, much like a mastermind.  Together the team is stronger when all perspective are brought together to create a new solution.   As a team lead, your role is to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.  Some will prefer to be more visible than others.  Recognize the contributions of each member (not just those who are more vocal or visible) and celebrate positive outcomes or positive learnings from mistakes.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”   — Phil Jackson

Team dynamics are a key factor in achieving a successful outcome.  Don’t let one person stop the team from pulling the whole team down!  Whether you are the team lead or a team member, you have a role to play — be the difference maker!

 

Does your team experience challenges?  We have a number of solutions that can assist you.  Contact us to explore how our solutions may benefit your and your team and boost results.

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