Everything seems to be moving at lightning speed today. It seems hard to keep up. Are we the only ones who had to look up what “m-learning” is? With so much excitement and buzz about the latest initiatives, what can we afford to filter out? As we continue to race breathlessly forward, we want to reflect on what we all know and cannot afford to forget.
We know that retaining and developing talent is at the core of any thriving business, no matter the size or industry. What we also cannot forget is that working together, collaboratively is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. Only when we work together as a team, contribute, debate, make decisions and follow through, can the results of our efforts be greater than the sum of our own individual capabilities. However, teams look different today than they did 20 years ago. Teams are changing. Some teams span several continents; others are made up of members spanning several generations.
How do we overcome the challenges facing today’s teams? How do we empower them to get results? Companies know that they must continue to invest in learning and development, but how do they ensure that this spending will link to strategic business goals and help meet and exceed business targets? In his New York Times best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni writes:
Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.
So what can we do to build strong, cohesive teams?
Teams need to commit collectively to building a cohesive team. While the actions required are not complicated, they do require that team members put in a considerable amount of work over a long period of time. Teams must:
1. Trust each other.
To build trust, individuals must have confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.
2. Engage in productive conflict around ideas.
When there is trust, team members are able to engage in unfiltered, constructive debate. Healthy conflict focuses on concepts and ideas to produce the best possible solution.
3. Commit to decision and plans of action.
When team members are able to offer opinions and debate ideas, they will be more likely to commit to decisions. It’s not necessary to achieve consensus, but clarity and buy-in are key to commitment.
4. Hold one another accountable.
When everyone is committed to a clear plan of action, they are better able to hold one another accountable. Team members must be willing to call one another on behaviour or performance that isn’t up to agreed-on standards or that hurts the team.
5. Focus on the achievement of collective results.
The ultimate goal of building greater trust, healthy conflict, commitment, and accountability is the achievement of results. Team members need to make collective results their top priority.
Once a team masters all five steps, the payoff will be huge – for individuals, the team and the organisation. Some benefits of high functioning teams are that they:
- Make better, faster decisions,
- Tap into the skills and opinions of all members,
- Avoid wasting time and energy on politics, confusion, and destructive conflict,
- Avoid wasting time talking about wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over because of a lack of buy-in,
- Create competitive advantage,
- Are more fun to be on!
Let’s face it; your team can do better! All of our teams can. The question is do we have what it takes to work towards building a cohesive team.
About the Authors: Dr. Yvonne Johnson is VP & Director of International Channel Development, and Sabrina Hussain is Manager of Partner Care at Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions Group. Having worked together for several years to improve relationships in the workplace, Dr. Johnson and Ms. Hussain know first-hand how continually encouraging and fostering an environment of strong team collaboration can advance strategic organisational goals and have a positive impact on both the top and bottom lines.
Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions Group creates products and services to help people become more effective at work and achieve professional success throughout their career. Our highly respected, global brands include Everything DiSC®, The Leadership Challenge® by best-selling authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, and now, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ by best-selling author Patrick Lencioni.