How high can you go?
Our world is built on teams – they are everywhere…at work, at home, on the TV (think Rio, the new football season, et al). Even in solo sports there’s a team behind the ‘star’ making achievement possible. Where a team is functioning well, performing to a high level, the results can be extraordinary and, at the very least, more than the sum of individual efforts. So investing in team development is a no brainer. For leaders in organisations it’s a sure fire way to increase performance, goal getting and results. How come, then, team development so often falls short?
For me, there are a number of pitfalls leaders need to be thinking about, planning for and dealing with.
Being clear what you’re trying to achieve and how realistic it is. What’s the brief and is the goal (level of high performance) realistic given where you are now and the people and issues you’re working with?
The leader has to be fully immersed and committed. Specifying the problem, agreeing the investment and then watching from the side-lines won’t work. Nor will committing to make your own changes and then reverting to type in the day-to-day.
The leader has to lead, with courage. There will be some bumps in the road…possibly some big ones. Getting the collywobbles and backing off is an absolute no, no if you want change.
It’s not about the task. Team development has to get to the heart of what makes us tick as individuals and in relationship with others. That means getting personal, dealing with emotions, exploring how much we trust each other, or not. This stuff is the heart of team yet it’s also the area that gets side-lined as ‘soft and fluffy’ in team development. For ‘soft and fluffy’ read too hard, too uncomfortable. Teams that can truly crack this will make a step change in performance.
There’s no substitute for the hard yards. Team development needs time and the commitment of the people involved. It doesn’t happen over a couple of days of development sessions. Rather it needs absolute focus: to putting new ideas and approaches into practice in the workplace; to creating the space and environment in which people can have a go; to keeping each other honest through feedback and appropriate challenge; through honest review of how we’re doing and how we recalibrate and recommit.
In short it’s a relentless process not just to get to high performance but also to maintain it. And when we hit those heights we know the effort’s been worth it.