What defines a great team? In most cases when we discuss this, the focus is on performance. In the end, performance is what teams are supposed to deliver. I believe it is the correct focus, if we were to choose one parameter to define a great team. However, teams that focus solely on performance, rarely reach long term success. Long term success requires focus on other aspects, too. In my recent thinking, teams that desire long term success need to focus on three aspects - simultaneously:
3. Energizing ways of working
Managing performance is the area teams and organizations have become much better at over the years. However, new challenges raise because of the complexity of the business environment. Complexity makes it more difficult to define meaningful objectives as the world is changing so rapidly around us. Here one way to help setting objectives is to be consciously DUMB before setting SMART objectives. Being DUMB is about defining together the Desired Unchanging Meaningful Basic for the team first. The outcome of this process is a shared understanding of the three DUMB areas of the team - A, B and C. Taking care of the ABC of the team ensures that the team performs well in the turbulent environment. Then, and only then, does it make sense to define SMART objectives for these consciously chosen areas.
In the learning area, individuals in teams have already for years had development plans. In my experience, these are implemented in 25% of the cases. People, who are naturally driven to develop themselves, do this whether it is a practice in the company or not.
Additionally, several targeted programs, such as those targeted to high performing talents, work well in boosting learning. However, for the majority the most common comment still that we hear about development plans is that they are made, but never followed up. One practical tool teams and individuals alike could use much more is that of ASKING FREQUENT FEEDBACK - and reacting on it on an ongoing basis. How do we know how we perform, if we don't ask? Reacting on feedback does not mean that we do everything others wish we should do. A good practice has turned out to be that of consciously tuning our activities to serve our team's purpose better. Not all feedback leads to altered actions. When we consciously decide to continue what we do, despite of differing requests, it is useful to provide justifications to those who suggested the change.
Performing and learning can be done in a variety of ways. HOW performance is driven has a strong impact on the energy of the individuals. In a team of highly competitive people, setting competing targets gives the team a raise in their energy. In teams of more collaborative type of individuals, competing targets will drain the energy rather than boost it. The way of working, the HOW we do things in the team rather than WHAT we do, is the source of energy for the long term success of teams. HOW is about our behaviour and WHAT is about the results or the outcomes of our activities. Does the way we work create energy or drain it? What are the ways we behave that boost the energy and what behaviours drain the energy? How people experience ways of working, is very individual. The key here is to have a truthful dialogue in the team of what creates and drains energy. Some teams are rather good at expressing this - and acknowledging the experience of other team members. In other teams, people are not used to having this kind of a discussion. Having truthful dialogue about our energy is a skill that requires practice - and a good amount of trust in the team to have an honest discussion.
How is your team doing on performance, learning and energizing?
Kirjoittaja: Kenny Niutanen