Creating High Performing Teams
In his book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ Patrick Lencioni says genuine teamwork in most organizations remains as elusive as it has ever been, blaming five natural but dangerous pitfalls. These are the five dysfunctions:
1. Absence of trust – this comes from the unwillingness to be vulnerable, not being open about mistakes, skill deficiencies and weaknesses. As a result there is no foundation for trust
2. Fear of conflict – the team does not engage in unfiltered and passionate debate
3. Lack of commitment – without airing their views in open debate, team members rarely buy in to decisions
4. Avoidance of accountability – without committing to a clear plan, team members cannot be held accountable
5. Inattention to results – the final outcome is failure to achieve, as individual needs or divisional needs are held as more important than collective goals
In contrast, Glenn Llopis has identified six ways successful teams are built to last. He believes Team Building requires the following:
1) Great leadership
2) Leaders who are not afraid to make the difficult decisions and establish standards of performance that are constantly being met
3) A keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others
4) The management of egos and their constant demands for attention and recognition
5) The ability to master the art of people and knowing how to manoeuvre hundreds if not thousands of people at the right place and at the right time
6) Knowing how each person thinks and how to best utilize their competencies in the right way at all times
Senior Team Development should concentrate on assessing and building these skills and competency levels. In addition it should identify key individual and team development areas utilizing processes such as a 360 Feedback Review and online Talent Assessment Solutions, such as the world renowned Strength Deployment Inventory, which enables managers to understand the reason why people do things rather than just observe and react to what is done. The Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) identifies personal strengths and motivations and how these relate to those of their colleagues – whether things are going well or badly. It demonstrates how to use these strengths effectively to improve working or personal relationships with others. It can be used in a variety of contexts including, influencing, conflict management, Team Development, Leadership, Management and Coaching.
Recognizing and dealing with inter-personal conflict is a crucial element in all relationships but especially within teams. The SDI® provides insights into how to recognize the first signs of conflict in others and shows how to respond appropriately to resolve the dispute before it gets out of hand or unwittingly causes further antagonism.
Another Assessment and Development Tool which we find indispensable in Team Development is the highly effective Team Needs Questionnaire which provides feedback on the key behaviours needed by effective teams. The Team Needs Questionnaire identifies the reality of how successful the team really is by asking all team members to rate the normal observed behaviours; the scores are then benchmarked against high performing teams. Behaviours include: Confronting Issues, Driving for Results, Communication, Planning, Dealing with Strong Personalities, Decision Making, Meeting Management, Creating a Vision, Trusting each other, Openness, Inspiring Others. Often the scores are much lower than anticipated!
During a Senior Team Development day the results of the assessments are then collated and fed back to the team with frank group discussion around what works well in the team and what can be improved on. The outcomes are a more open, honest and trust based culture, a Team Contract, signed by all members to improve all interventions and working practices, an increased exchange of constructive Feedback, and an agreed SMART Action Plan for ongoing development.