How High-Performing Organizations Develop, Encourage, and Strengthen Teams
In our study of CEOs of enduringly successful companies, the subject of “teams” came up repeatedly and without prompting. Reliance on a strong senior leadership team did not come as a surprise. In fact, many CEOs credited their executive team members individually and collectively for their ability to navigate challenges and to exploit opportunities. They serve as a sounding board; a group of internal advisors who simultaneously challenge and support the CEO and each other.
But the team concept does not stop there. Managers take their cue from leadership and model the construct and work of teams in their own departments and in cross-functional organization-wide teams.
A team is not just a group of people who meet regularly. In successful teams, each member understands clearly and is committed to the team’s goal and to his or her responsibility within it. In team-oriented organizations, learning how winning teams function becomes part of each employee’s personal development plan.
Members of effective teams establish expectations for themselves, for each other, and for the team itself. Measurement tools such as the Group Styles Inventory (Human Synergistics) are utilized to monitor team performance and help members learn from their cooperative work experience.
Here again, the leader sets the pace by establishing an expectation of cooperation throughout the organization, making it clear that the competition is outside the enterprise, not inside where it is often counter-productive. Determining whether employees can be valuable team members is part of the recruitment, assessment and, if hired, the development process of every employee. The performance management system accounts for each employee’s role as a team member and the job performance of supervisors and managers is determined, at least in part, by how effective they are in developing teams and team members.
What are the characteristics of high-performing teams and team members? One of the best ways to determine this is to have the team establish these individually and collectively. Here’s how to do it.
Ask each member to develop a list of characteristics of a high-performing team and of a high-performing team member. In a facilitated session, bring the group together with each member reporting out the items on their list. With this composite list, first cluster and combine like characteristics. Then, have each member discuss and prioritize the remaining items to create their own customized list of characteristics that will drive their beliefs and their behavior as they do their work. You may find this powerful document helpful and refer to it often. Since it represents the collective thinking of the team itself, its usefulness as a guiding touchstone cannot be underestimated.
Organizational teams can be a waste of time or an essential part of a high-performing enterprise. Having a strong, committed leadership team can serve as an enduring example, providing a template for broader organizational success.
For a sample list of characteristics of high-performing teams and team members, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.