In a recent GPC survey, over 100 professionals from a variety of industries indicated that understanding the dynamics of high performing teams was a topic of great interest.
Makes sense. There is little we do more often than work with others to achieve an outcome. It is ever present in our careers, but it is also a routine activity in the community and at home. Before the pandemic, neighbors planned block parties and families planned reunions. Now, people are coming together to form learning pods in response to schools moving to virtual learning due to the pandemic. It is natural for us to seek out others to fulfill a need or achieve something.
Working in teams is a universal experience.
Given this, it is particularly interesting the lack of education and instruction most people receive in how to work effectively with others. When starting a new job, we learn the specifics of our role and the work the team is expected to accomplish. Rarely do we learn the most effective ways to work with each other. In fact, many teams do not talk about this concept at all, how to work together.
Why? Is it thought to be easy and not worth the time and effort to attend training? Is training even offered? Do we believe we are already skilled at it and “the other guy” is the problem? Or is it assumed that a group of adults will just figure it out?
Certainly, in some cases that happens. We figure it out and the team experience is thrilling, energy inducing and fun. Some of the most gratifying moments in our life are the result of working with others.
Other times, we do not figure it out and teamwork is annoying and tedious. At its worst, demoralizing. We may complain, cry, or vent our way through a bad day (or month?) of teamwork.
These experiences are not left up to chance. Team performance is not a coincidental collection of personalities that magically get along together. Rather, there are well established behaviors and techniques that when employed will enable a group of people to not only achieve their goals but often exceed them.
Because of this and the fact that working on a team is universal, why not make each teamwork experience the best it can be?
To do this, GPC will publish the Team Development Series: Five Essential Components for High Performing Teams. This is a series of blog posts that will not only outline evidence-based practices but also provide job aids and resources available for download to make practicing the new skills convenient. Here is a brief overview of what is to come:
#1 Communication: Ask Questions and Listen
Curiosity will advance a team’s work together over opinions and assumptions. Establish a foundation of learning and buy-in to position the team for performance.
#2 Goals: No Team Can Perform Without Them
Set direction so that everyone understands the task at hand and how to stay on track to meet the expectation.
#3 Clear Roles and Processes: Who Does What When
Assumptions fill the gaps when roles and responsibilities are not defined. Get consistent execution with clarity in how the work gets done.
#4 Productive Conflict: It is a Good Thing
Disagreement is inevitable. Discuss as a team how conflict will be handled before it comes up. Invite differing opinions to lead the team to better ideas.
#5 Feedback: Improvement Focused Dialogue
When feedback is expected and routine, it feels less threatening. Apply a framework for consistently checking in on individual and team progress.
Intentionally, there is no component dedicated to leadership of the team. The leader’s role is to facilitate the implementation of each component and model the behaviors required. All eyes are on the leader to set the example for the team.
Equally important, the team members hold a similar obligation. The burden of team performance does not weigh solely on the leader. Rather, every person on the team bears responsibility for success.
That is why this series is dedicated to both leaders and individuals who are seeking knowledge and techniques to get better results out of teamwork.
Stay tuned for the first installment next week: Communication: Ask Questions and Listen
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Amy Drader is a management consultant and credentialed coach with over 20 years’ experience. She knows first-hand the joys and challenges of leadership and is dedicated to helping managers and teams advance their performance. She is the owner of Growth Partners Consulting, a boutique leadership and team development consulting firm.