Have you ever wondered why certain teams are successful and find their way to achieve challenging goals while some others struggle andunderperform?
It is quite relevant to discover what makes successful teams "tick" in order to be able to replant such pockets of excellence to other parts of the organisation and scale up.
Looking at my own team I have found following 10 mantras, which are making us successful and bringa lot of value to the whole organisation:
1. Walk the talk
"What I hear I forget, what I see I remember, what I do I understand". Forget about the status differences and egos but focus on what's important to get your team to the best result together.Commit publicly to the values and practice them in front of the others. Make sure information flows freely in the group and that sharing of information is appreciated and rewarded and silo behaviour penalised. Avoid smart talk trap. For instance, you would not rather be credible if on one hand you are encouraging sharing ideas and at the same time you are sitting in a nice spacious office separating yourself from your team and meeting them only as part of your weekly get-together. Make the team meetings a safe place to share information both about successes and failures. Connect well beliefs and behaviours by introducing routines that remind everybody on your way you do things.
2. Constructive disagreement
Maintaining a team harmony is of utmost importance. This does not mean everybody should have the same opinion and get along on all the fronts. In our case, best solutions has come from agreeable disagreement with one another. Robert Sutton says that scaling up requires both addition and subtraction. In developing new solutions to existing problems the team should be able to build on each other, experiment by adding or subtracting ideas to get to the best result. Being open to learn from each other and able to rethink one's point of view is crucial. Separating persons from the ideas enables vivid discussions, critiquing and tweaking ideas to achieve the best outcomes.
3. External alignment
In organisations our team often goes against the tide. Not to be swamped away, the team needs to act and be perceived to act as a monolith, where each part reinforces the othervis-a- vis a common enemy of resistance, bureaucracy, routine, mediocrity and procrastination.
4. Intrinsic drive to excellence
Your team's track record to achieve ambitious goals is paramount and needs to be well protected. To that end intrinsic motivation of the group to do the right thing is a must. Embody the excellence even if you are tired, under water or discouraged. Do take care. You may slow down but do not let yourself down to taking the least resistance path. This is the road to mediocrity paved with the worst behaviours and attitudes. " I do not care and neither of my colleagues" mindset is the beginning of the end of any organisation.
5. No free riding
The right team composition with complementary skill set, diverse backgrounds and experiences enriches the team and enables to solve problems more effectively. Each team member should have an important but distinct role to play that should be compatible with his or her interests and predispositions. Demand accountability - there needs to be a genuine conviction and commitment to do a great job and that all the team contributes to the utmost of their abilities. It thencomesnaturally to cover for and support each other. Once one or a few team members are not tuned in to that philosophy the team spirit and collaboration will suffer. In such case it is important to use peer coaching and peer pressure to rectify that, otherwise the team will crack down sooner or later.
6. Support the weakest point.
The team's effectiveness is driven by progress of all the team members. Use the expertise of more experienced team members to pull up the performance of juniors. They must feel that each day you are putting them on the steep learning curve. They in turn must be willing to accept that challenge. Combine safe environment to experiment with ambitious tasks and room for creativity. In that way you are helping them to progress and succeed in an optimal way, which greatly benefits your team performance and team spirit.
7. Understand how you can help
Your team impact is a function of both internal and external effectiveness. As a team do not try to put your label everywhere, as you will be perceived to be an intruder rather than a contributor. The thing is to understand and make others aware where your team's value added lies and how you can help other teams, functions or departments to achieve their goals.
8. Constantly reinvent yourselves
The team may fall into a trap of working on a autopilot. But applying same templates to new situations and problems is a recipe for trouble. Similarly to a medicine, problems which seem to be similar may in reality have different root causes. Therefore your team need to stop and think and slow down at times to take another perspective. Use ideas from wherever you can, reach outside the boundaries of your team, do explore new ideation channels such as open innovation and crowdsourcing.
9. Control the team stress
The right amount of stress is mobilising and stimulating to achieve goals. But at times the more is less and the better is slower. Taking too much on your team shoulders may be killing to you and the team. The role of the leader is to shield the team against excess pressure and unreasonable expectations. This would strengthen people's trust in leadership and reinforce team spirit and solidarity.
10. Enjoy what you are doing
Above all the team should embrace all things they are doing and enjoy doing it. Feeling of pride and confidence of working in the good team is contagious. If a lot ofyour workmates would like to work in your team, this is the final test that what you are doing and how you are doing it is well recognised and appreciated.I am keen to hear your experiences and comments on what makes your team "tick".