The Art and Science of Building Exceptional Teams
How do you create the elusive group dynamics that characterise high-performing teams?
How do you create teams blessed with the energy, creativity, shared understanding and commitment to far surpass other teams?
Teams can be powerful, energizing, creators of value for an organization, and through them a company can enjoy performance no individual could possibly achieve on their own. At the same time, teams can be difficult, dynamic, inefficient centers of frustration that are the opposite of productive and can actually detract from a company’s value.
The latest research from MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory shows that team dynamics are observable, quantifiable, and measurable. And, perhaps most important, teams can be taught how to strengthen them.
The research points to two elements that seem to create the “It Factor” in high performing teams. Since all work done in any team setting is always conversational, communication encompasses both these elements. The first is that high performance did not lie in the content of a team’s discussions but in the manner in which it was communicating. And, the best predictor of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside of formal meetings.
The Three E’s of Communication
The three elements that consistently show up in powerfully teams are the levels of Energy and degree of Engagement with which the individuals communicated. The third critical component is Exploration, which involves communication that members engage in outside their team.
One may argue that the points about energy, engagement, and exploration are blindingly obvious, yet it is in the practical application of these points that most teams fall woefully short. These elements are outputs or behaviours by individual team members that ultimately lead to a high performing team. What will be explored in the breakfast talk, is what creates these outputs in the first place and how teams can shift to begin learning and incorporating these key components more consciously.
Six Benchmarks for Team Excellence:
1) Alignment: Alignment around a shared vision.
All team members are moving in the same direction toward a shared vision. Individual and team goals are related to the purpose of the team. Team members clearly understand their goals and job responsibilities. There is a strong and clear connection between all activities and the purpose of the team.
2) Team Effectiveness: Effective team processes.
Coordinated efforts are supported by effective group dynamics and strong team processes for open communication, sharing information, flexibility, problem-solving, decision-making, goal-setting, accountability, and recognition.
3) Empowerment: Power to do what is necessary.
Teams members experience a sense of individual and collective power to do what is necessary. They are free to make decisions within the boundary of their assignment and have access to the resources they need. Practical risk-taking is encouraged and mistakes are seen as an inevitable part of the creative process.
4) Passion: Energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.
There is a high and sustained level of energy, enthusiasm and confidence about their work and the way team members work together. Team members feel inspired and able to perform at levels never before imagined and in their ability to overcome obstacles. There is an aura of excitement and focus that sustains growth of new capabilities and openness to change.
5) Commitment: Deep commitment to the team and to each other.
Team members are deeply committed to the purpose of the team, to the goals, to each other, and to accomplishing the work that needs to be done, regardless of the effort required. They know what needs to be done and they will find a way to do it.
6) Results: Sustained outstanding results.
High performance teams sustain results over time. They set high standards for performance that are clearly defined, measurable, and are consistently met by individual team members and the team. They “go for the gold” and are energized by the opportunity to provide top-quality services or products.
Our standard approach to team development begins with a 2-day foundation workshop followed by a 6-month team coaching process that develops individual team members in real time while enhancing group dynamic and handling issues as they arise. This builds sustainability into the process as shift takes place over a sustained period. The model can be modified to fit specific needs if required.