We have heard a lot about High Performing Teams and how they effectively deliver the business results, gel together, perform in stress situations and so on. We also know that high performing teams not always consists of only the highly skilled people or so called high flyers. Than what is it that differentiate a high performing and highly committed team from any other team? There are few elements in my view and experience dealing with some of the best teams that puts these teams above any other team within the organization. And I can tell you that with full conviction that these are not the individual high performers of the organization.
Key Elements as I see:
Create a Charter:
A charter for the team you are supposed to build is very important. If you don’t know what you are doing or cannot define, please don’t do it. So here is what you need to define:
· Define the Success (what is looks like to succeed as this very team)
· Be convinced about the Success (If you are not convinced no one else would be)
· Create a communication plan (how and with whom team would communicate, looks easy? This is where most of the team may fail!)
· Roles needed in the team (Clarity of roles comes from the clarity of the work to be executed, if not clear dig deep, do some research, talk to seniors, look at the organization priorities and get your answers)
· Assess the impact of failure (be ready to communicate the same to your team and your stakeholders)
Get the Right Mix
Once you have the charter defined make sure you get the right mix of people in your team. This is very foundation of a strong team. Some elements to be considered to get the right mix of people:
· Vocals / Non-vocals
Once you have the Charter and Right Mix in place next step would be to get this team going which is not going to be easy but with focus on right elements this team would convert into a high performing team over the period of time. Most important element from now on to build TRUST with the team and within the team. TRUST is the single most important factor which will define how team would behave, perform and deliver over the period of time. Remember you can have all the right factors in place but still cannot get the team to perform if team is lacking in TRUST. TRUST creates willingness in the team members to collaborate, go beyond personal achievements, associate themselves with the larger goals and work harder for common goals.
We all know creating and maintaining TRUST is not easy and requires constant focus and efforts to sustain it for a loner duration of time. But efforts put into it by a Leader worth investing time as this is the core of any high performing team. Without TRUST teams can disintegrate very quickly. So how do we go about achieving this? It’s a journey and continuous genuine efforts that are required from a leader, here are my thoughts on the same:
· First few months for a new team are very crucial and sets the direction for the team. As a leader spend time to understand the individual aspirations and expectations. Listen a lot from your team members rather than just telling them what to do. In fact listen more and talk less, this will provide opportunity for your team members to open up
· Address the concerns very promptly. You may not be able to resolve everything immediately but make sure to listen and provide your assistance if needed. Do not ignore or take the issues raised negatively. Employees would look forward to you to listen and understand what they are trying to raise, listening properly would resolve more than half of the issues. Also they may not be looking for a solution immediately, they would need someone to share the concerns
· Clarify all your decisions even the very small ones, do not assume that people will understand on their own. There are many decisions a leader or manager takes like change in assignments, change in direction or about communication, make sure everyone in the team knows the grounds for taking those decisions. Any confusion or feeling of any bias will impact the TRUST with the leader and within the team as well
· Do NOT LIE. I feel there are two kind of lies. Hard lies when a leader or manager blatantly tells a lie, this is not very common as experienced leaders would be very careful about this. Problematic one is the soft lies. With soft lies I mean the tendency to hide some information, not presenting the information in the right manner, not having confidence to present the facts as is or simply ignoring the information. A lot of times managers or leaders return with the answer that they do not know or cannot share it. With my own experience I can tell you that except for some sensitive or classified information as decided by the organization everything else can be easily shared. This is very much against the culture of openness you desire for the team. People can easily see through this and would react with diminishing TRUST.
· Be on your employees’ side. You are a leader of your team and not a representative of your manager or management. It is definitely not about management vs the employees rather about coordination between the two. As your team looks forward to you represent them in a right way make sure you are doing so and do not come across as an agent for the higher management. You may sometimes have to compromise on your personal aspirations as a manager but never represent your team in a poor light
· Do not treat every team member as same, they are all very different and have different needs. Work with them to find out their needs in terms of recognition, career development, communication and coaching & mentoring.
· Provide a personal touch it always helps. Share personal experiences and encourage them to share the same. This will help you to understand them at an individual level and will help build camaraderie among the team members
· Expect differences and welcome them. Differences not the sameness brings vitality and vigor into the team. Diversity, cultural differences, working style, language and social orientation all should be openly welcomed and encouraged. Do understand that diverse teams are much more successful as they bring in different points of view and help in innovation.
· Do not crib, work with what you have in terms of resources (budget, manpower etc.). Especially do not fret about quality of the resources in your team, you have chosen them. Even if assigned to you in some other way own up the team and its performance. You are the leader and are supposed to get the best out of your team.
· Be in the line of fire – As a leader be ready to be in the line of fire and be responsible if things go wrong. People in your team needs to see this, they want to work with the person who can stand for the team. Do not blame individual team members for failures, own up failures and give your team credit for the success. If your team is correct be there to fight for your team, do not bow down under pressure from customers or senior management. Managers often make the mistake of passing the pressure onto their teams, absorb pressure and let your team concentrate on delivering solutions
· Let you team take decisions, don’t try to take all the decisions on your own, respect opinions and be there to support. Keep a low profile, don’t try to be the smartest contributor in the team, be the best leader rather
· Provide equal opportunities to all the team members, do not just rely on the so called high flyers in the team, they cannot deliver all the work. You need to use strengths of all the individuals in your team. Give them responsibility and show them what success or failure looks like
· Be firm and assertive, do the things in a right way. Do not accept indiscipline or non-performance as this will have negative impact on dedicated people in the team. However make sure to clearly discuss the issues with the concerned employees before taking any action. Also provide opportunity to correct and improve
· Keep it simple, do not over-complicate things with your communication or discussions. Do not bring your personal EGO into the fore
· Be innovative in your management of the things. Day to day simple things can be made and presented in a fresh new flavor. For example may be get rid of those boring weekly meetings where people are busy doing something else. Draw their attention and keep them involved and engaged
Little things matter a lot, you are being watched all the time by your team. How you conduct yourself in the meetings, how you own up, how you stand up, how you take your decisions and how you communicate everything little thing is being looked at. Try and make those day to day little things count. TRUST is built over a period of time with these little things, it cannot be built with a great talk in a day.