Do you struggle with office politics and a dispirited work environment? Are your colleagues constantly talking about problems in the workplace or new challenges they are excited to tackle? Do they become guarded when they share information or do they display open trust and support?
What’s the difference between a great team and a mediocre one?
Most organisations will set specific objectives for the whole year. They expect their staff to achieve higher profits, better efficiency or reduce operational costs.
While this is important, my question is: “How many organisations take the time to develop and coach their teams in achieving better dynamics and cohesiveness?
People make teams. This is important to understand because when a team is under pressure to perform, it will be the strong relationships between colleagues that will prevail and not the management’s expectations of their performance.
There are seven factors that will propel your team to greater heights. Apply them as a leader and your people will follow you.
1. PURPOSE AND MISSION
What drives your people to work every day? Is it just a livelihood or do they find their jobs are purposeful and engaging?
In my experience, most people start off trying to find a sense of purpose and fulfilment in their work. However, over time, they experience a drop in motivation levels.
It is important for you as a leader to always remind every person on your team why they are doing things, why they are involved in a project that is not part of their work scope, why they have to put in more effort, and so on.
Without the why, there is no ownership of the work. It is important to constantly remind your staff of this, especially when the going gets tough and they are under tremendous pressure to achieve results.
Every year, Fortune magazine lists the Top 100 Companies to work for. The top executives of a pharmaceutical company within the top 10 list recalled how they were able to share the corporate vision with the rest of the employees.
From the heads of departments down to the administrative staff, all knew that they had a vital role to play in creating a better quality of life for the people who used the company’s drugs to treat their life-threatening illnesses.
In the annual staff meetings, the company invited some patients to give testimonies on how the drugs were able to give them a new lease of life.
2. SHARED VALUES
What are the core values that are shared by each person on the team? Do they have a clear understanding of these values? Without a strong code of honour, teams will break under pressure.
Here are example of a team code of honour (explanations are in brackets):
- Energy is important. When people are energetic, they create a positive charge in the environment.
- Speak supportively and with good purpose.
- Take personal responsibility for all outcomes. Do not lay blame, justify or complain!
- Celebrate every win.
- When there are problems, look to the system first before looking at the person.
- others to support you while you support others.
- Speak the truth with compassion. This is important when you need to correct a colleague. Even though you think you are right, it is important to win a person’s heart first and then correct the mistake. Many fall into the trap of “self-righteousness” and reprimand a team mate without thinking about his feelings.
3. PLAYING TO STRENGTHS
Are your colleagues doing the work they are good at? When you were in school, if you were weak in a particular subject, what did your parents tell you to do? Very likely, they advised you to spend more time trying to improve what you were bad at.
This strategy does not translate well in corporate work, where the trend is to find happiness and fulfilment in doing things well, in areas that showcase your strengths.
No team member is good at everything. That is why employees work in teams. An effective leader builds a strong team by leveraging on each team member’s different talents. He will not waste his resources trying to improve on their weaknesses.
Allow your staff to concentrate on what they do best. This is so that they will be more fulfilled and begin to grow from strength to strength. Do not expect them to multi-task for every project.
Tomorrow: Principles 4 to 7 in creating a high performance team.