Goals, themes or both – How are you going to meet the challenge of 2020 and the decade ahead?
I’ve had the privilege to work with some incredible teams over the years within the world of sport, the not-for-profit and community sector, and across both small-scale and globally spread businesses. I’m fascinated by the mix and interplay of behaviors, to-dos and intentions that combine to deliver success. Here’s what I’ve observed through my experiences, interactions and consulting, to be the features of the very best teams:
- CONSISTENTLY SUPERIOR RESULTS
Results go way beyond boom and bust! Excellent results are what it’s all about, but it’s no good if everyone burns out or runs away as fast they can after hitting the home run. A focus on ensuring that success is sustainable is critical. Great teams take time to plus/delta their experiences and to apply lessons learned to future projects and initiatives. They also take a breath or two to celebrate success, recognize and acknowledge people’s contributions and effort, and re-energize ahead of the next sprint or adventure.
- HIGH LEVELS OF MORALE
Good morale shows up every day via the positive and constructive mood of interactions and meetings. It also tells its story via metrics such as people’s Peak Performance scores, other employee survey ratings, and employee absentee and turnover figures. Of course, these analytics should also reflect ‘the talk at the water-cooler’ and not reveal a mismatch between what people feel safe to report and their actual feelings.
- A QUARTERLY, FACE-TO-FACE, WHOLE TEAM MEETING
Certainly for virtual teams – but others too – any regular meeting cadence is interlaced with a quarterly face-to-face whole team event focused on strategy, alignment, and working as a team. Despite incredible innovations in technology, there’s still something unique and special about what happens when people are in the room together. The considerable investment often incurred to do this, pays off through renewed team energy, a refreshed collaborative spirit, and a refocused sense of direction and priority.
- ASSUMING OF POSITIVE INTENT
Even if someone’s messaging or action lands painfully, there’s no second-guessing of their intentions. Instead, people set out to find out more – directly from those involved – and not to judge or criticize. Signing people up to assume positive intent – and suspend their judgment – is a great way to get them to see and experience its benefits. They discover that ‘finding out more first’ leads to more honest, constructive AND effective conversations and improved collaboration – it soon becomes a default tactic.
- PEOPLE SAY THE SAME IN THE ROOM AS OUTSIDE THE ROOM
People speak up ‘in the room’ because they trust each other, so there’s no reason for – or value in – not speaking up, even when the issues are tough or sensitive. People feel comfortable about having the ‘real conversations’ with and not about those involved. They also feel secure in sharing what’s on their mind, even when it might be going against the general flow or overall mood. As a result, not only are people able to be their authentic selves, but issues or concerns that may otherwise have gone unaired get to see the light of day – before potentially hindering progress with individual, team and organizational goals.
- A JOINT APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING
One person’s problem is viewed as a team problem. This is simply because its resolution is seen to have an impact on everyone’s success. People aren’t left hanging and isolated to ‘sort out their own mess’. And, irrespective of hierarchy and role, contributions aimed at resolving challenges are encouraged and valued.
- CROSS-REPRESENTATION OF EACH OTHER
Team members support and promote each other to internal and external stakeholders. At a high level, people stay across each team member’s roles, projects, and activities. If any problems arise, team members will have each other’s backs, taking action to get more information and assist with resolution.
- INNOVATION AND VOLUNTEERING
People want to be involved in starting new and different things. With less time spent on sorting out messy interactions and relationships, and results being delivered faster and more efficiently, there’s more time and head space to focus on whatever’s next. People throw out their ideas and put their hands up to research, experiment, and reach out to their network to get things moving. No need for press-ganging!
- SHARING OF DEEPER, PERSONAL STORIES
People feel comfortable about sharing if they know they will not be judged or criticized and that their confidences will be kept. This characteristic is not about any enforced ‘bearing of the soul’ but something that naturally manifests when trust builds. As a result relationships are strengthened and personal insight and learning passed on.
- VOLUNTARILY SOCIALIZING
People across teams genuinely want to spend some of their social time together. This is in contrast to people only joining in with planned events out of a sense of obligation or because they fear negative consequences if not seen to be ‘playing team’. Similarly, if someone opts not to join in with a social event, there’s no rush to look for the ‘hidden meaning’ behind their choice.
- ATTRACTING OF TALENT
Filling vacant or new positions is a challenge, but only because of the number of great candidates that show up! Word gets around – people want to work for successful teams. Yes, bottom-line results are a significant attraction but, in the job market, people are increasingly widening their definitions of success. Factors such as a strong reputation for innovation, and a positive and empowering culture (and leader!), are amongst other major draws for the best talent.
- TRUST BREATHES LIFE AND ENERGY INTO EVERYTHING
The level of trust in a team or organization manifests in the quality and outcome of every relationship, interaction, and collaborative effort. Trust is the very oxygen of teams, and it underpins many of the other characteristics I’ve selected here. Enabling a deeper understanding and genuine appreciation of the needs, motivations, and talents of others is critical to building the solid platform of trust that makes a high performance team.
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