I am a freelance instructor plus a consultant team development specialist. Skippering yachts at sea working with companies and individuals to improve performance. This document outlines why teams and individuals stumble and fail and how they could be helped….
We’ve all witnessed entrapment, cynicism, personal and team conflicts. Struggled with resistance to change, politicking, manipulation and sometimes infighting.
This is so clearly displayed on yachts at sea, where team function and boat performance are intrinsically linked. It’s perhaps less clear inside companies as a prime `symptom’ of limiting performance.
By contrast, working teams demonstrate passion, active participation, pride, receive recognition and gain from real mutual support. Results drive them; they accept ownership, defining clear roles that effectively utilise their individual and team’s talents. They present a clear group identity and exude winning ways.
So why doesn’t effective teamwork just happen?
Definition of a team – “A small number of people with complimentary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” Jon Katzenbach & Douglas Smith, The discipline of teams
Life is fraught with new, unique challenges. Our rapidly changing world presents many complex, ambiguous, external pressures plus highly interdependent challenges. In short, it’s simply no longer possible for even the most talented individuals to spontaneously ‘create’ functional high performing teams, leastways without laying the right foundations!
So can teams be developed these days, or do we just need to accept that poisoned teams are simply the way of modern life?
Team building process – shot itself in the foot early on…
15 years ago, I was fortunate to be coached by a true expert who pointed out that so-called corporate team building is just not about teams at all.
We delivered lots of what was asked for; individual development, self-awareness, influencing and lots of training members to understand how others perceive and work.”
My guru explained the origins of this problem we faced: Team development training leads back to a seminal and probably the most influential writing ever to hit the business world.“Scientific Management” by Taylor circa 1910.
His research at the Bethlehem Steel works (USA) described how productivity was improved by breaking jobs down into their smallest constituent parts. Thus training in these competencies provided accuracy and repeatability.
Managers could focus on hiring, training, analysing & correcting core competencies – welcome to the age of worker training and the origins of soft skills; Time & Project management, Presentation skills etc all supported with metrics (Myers Briggs, SDI, Belbin etc.)
This approach; divide and rule, build wide hierarchies worked really well for perhaps 70-80 years, right up until globalisation and the digital age – routine tasks becoming the province of robots and computers.
People today are valued for our knowledge, enterprise and endeavours. The concept of working together, collaborating once again is the route to productivity and performance.
Social Identity Theory (Henri Tajfel 1978) Explained how and why we behave differently one-to-one than we do as part of a collective – as individuals we want to see ‘Us’ as different to, and better than, ‘Them’. We display in-group favouritism to enhance our self-esteem.
Example. The way sports fans behave when together are frequently at complete odds with how they would/perhaps should/ behave as individuals.
High performance team benefits:
- Increased productivity – Be closer to the action, the customer and see efficiencies and opportunities that conventional management systems overlook
- Better use of resources – focus resources, brainpower directly upon problems
- Better products & services – increase knowledge = continuous improvement
- More creative / better problem solving – teams leverage better ideas & outcomes than individuals
- Improved communication – sharing information and delegating work effectively. Good leadership results from good knowledge and leads towards shared leadership
- Increased skill set – range, depth, knowledge and experience of the many vs the one…
- Greater commitment – successful teams thrive on working together, absenteeism and staff churn stops.
- More exciting, satisfying enjoyable place to work – the rewards of successful teams are hard to understand, until you’ve actually been a part on one
Team Voyage provides skipper, team and leadership development programs using sailing as our classroom. Contact me on: 07940 755661 or email me at email@example.com
The Centre for Team excellence is our Partner and knowledge base