The Team Effectiveness Mantra
Ants showcase a great example of hard work, both at an individual level and as a team. It is often said that the industriousness of ants helps them create magnificent nests, but is that all? From the way the worker Ants carry small loads to the way the colony works together to overcome various challenges, the tenacity and collective effort that Ants showcase is amazing. And one word for all that is ‘Teamwork’. As roles become more interdependent and working together delivers results of a higher degree, team effectiveness is a quality quintessential in the modern workplace.
Why Does Team Effectiveness Matter?
- Achieving Organisational Goal
Every organisation has a specific goal. Achieving this doesn’t just require a drive, but a collective effort. Workplace synergy that is created through shared goals, working together, encouraging each other etc. all works towards reaching the organisational goal. Achieving the organisational goal is just like a Soccer team working to hit the goal, it’s a team effort and takes the involvement of every individual involved.
- Unifying Diversity
Organisations harbour a wide range of diversity. Right from gender, to ethnicity, demographic, language, and more. If this diversity is allowed to grow in difference within the organisation, it can create an unhealthy environment and even lead to low productivity. Instead, unifying the diversity can help in harnessing the potential of individual traits of a group for the greater benefit.
- Tackling Complexities
The complexities at work keep increasing. At times a single task requires the collective effort of individuals with different skill sets. According to Ernst & Young, “Almost 9 out of 10 companies surveyed agree that the problems confronting them are now so complex that teams are essential to provide effective solutions.” Working as a team helps in avoiding errors, learning new approaches through interactions and handling complex situations efficiently.
- Harnessing Ideas
When it comes to innovation, multiple ideas are better than just one. Just like multiple heads together can tackle the most complex issues, those minds can improvise and create collective ideas that are fool-proof and functional.
Goes without saying that teamwork helps in increasing the efficiency and productivity.
Teamwork undoubtedly is the essence of a successful business. But, how does it come to be. During recruitment, the so-called team is nothing but a bunch of talented individuals; how then do they become a team? And who moulds them into one? Managers hold the role of building and leading the team, and hence creating effective teams too comes under his/her responsibility.
For a manager, in order to achieve superlative results, a well-oiled and synchronised team is critical to be in place. While this is a dynamic situation, as described in the Tuckman’s model of team evolution (Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing), the manager is expected to continuously work on ensuring that the team moves towards performing stage, whenever there are changes in roles, people or goals. The task might appear gargantuan; the simple yet profound tips will go a long way in enhancing TRUST within the team.
- Target (or Purpose) of the Team
Teams often get drowned in mundane tasks and tend to forget why they were doing it in the first place. Having a clear target – ‘why’ is a pre-requisite before embarking on ‘the what’, for alignment and smooth functioning. Moreover, many team members yearn to be associated with a purpose that resonates with their own value system and personal goal. My business partner – Manik – often invests time with our team and extended team of consultants for getting them on one page in terms of the purpose point of view. This has yielded in ensuring that team members are able to not only do their tasks diligently, but also are able to find their own solutions to hurdles that they come across.
- Recognise Team Members
What gets recognised and rewarded, gets repeated. Managers have a huge repertoire of the tool of recognition at their disposal to appreciate their team members for genuine reasons. The Managing Director of one of our clients has this uncanny habit of noticing the small positives demonstrated by the team and mentioning about these in a strength-centred manner during meetings as well as in individual conversations. The team members, undoubtedly, are well knitted due to this consistent behaviour demonstrated by their manager.
- Understand the Team
Interactions among the team members and the manager should be based on a solid foundation of positive rapport. Understanding the team, the individuals, their strength and weaknesses by interacting with them regularly through both formal and informal channels will help. The relationship can only be built when there is genuine interest. On a number of occasions, Element78 has conducted an exercise with managers to conduct 1-o-1 non-purposive conversations in a mock situation. The idea is to understand the other person better and possibly find some common ground. Participants have mentioned that the mocks were so enriching that they felt urged to continue such conversations in their work life too.
- Seek Feedback
Seeking feedback from team members will provide a bottom-up view for the manager not just for self, but also for other aspects of the organisation’s culture, processes and performance criterion. While many organisations conduct workshops on how to give feedback (particularly during the appraisal season), we worked with a large French multinational organisation which alongside also had workshops for how to effectively seek feedback. Needless to say, it went a long way in building the feedbacking culture.
- Transparency at workplace
Nobody likes to be kept in the dark, more so when it comes to work and workflow. A transparent workflow and communication assists in avoiding bottlenecks at any stage, and in resolving any issue as soon as it arises. This requires open communication, mutual respect and freedom to voice one’s thoughts.
Building a sustainably effective team necessitates that the manager, along with his/her team members, is committed to this purpose. While there are various models to base one’s analysis of where the team currently is and where it needs to go, it is the mind-set that needs to be worked on first, before the tool-set kicks in. The final set, of course, would be the skill sets that help better alignment, smoother communication and seamless work flow. Element78 has worked with various teams (including senior leadership teams) in enhancing the effectiveness using an appropriate blend of mind-set, frameworks, experiential and reflective work. However, what really moved the needle was the long term approach that the manager and the team committed to and took ownership of making a highly functional team.
- The Team Effectiveness Mantra - March 14, 2019
- 3 Must-Have Managerial Dialogues to Engage & Develop Teams - November 14, 2018
- Why Managers Need to Understand Team Diversity - October 4, 2018
- Why Managers Need to Learn the Art of Conversations - August 8, 2018
- 6 Things Managers Can Do to Drive Employee Engagement - July 30, 2018
- The Happiness of Pursuit - October 10, 2017