Teams Make Performance Fly
by Gary Lockwood, BizSuccess
A few years ago, as the United States was gearing up to compete more effectively with the Japanese in automobiles and electronics, business journals, magazines, and many seminars were filled with discussion of "quality circles." These circles were to replace the traditional, linear based assembly lines and allow members to have input into their "process" regarding improvements in quality and/or quantity of work. Although the quality circle concept came and went, the main theme, teamwork, has become a mainstay of business in the past two decades.
The development of teams and teamwork has grown dramatically in virtually all types of organizations for one simple reason. Complexity. No one person has the ability to deliver the kind of products and services required in todayâ€™s highly competitive marketplace. In fact, organizations must depend on the cooperative nature of many teams to create successful ventures and outcomes.
However, in the rush to employ teams in solving problems, creating new products, or executing plans, many organizations have forgotten one important point. You donâ€™t ALWAYS need a team to get the work done! In fact, a "team" may actually slow the process and waste resources (time, money, people, etc.) that could have been used more effectively elsewhere. The key is groupwork vs teamwork and knowing the difference.
A team is a group, but a group in not always a team. The difference: if a collection of people shares a common zip code, then itâ€™s a group. If it shares a common mission, itâ€™s a team!
How can you determine when the task at hand requires a group or a team? Compare the complexity of the task and the relevant experience level required to complete the task. If the complexity is low and the level of relevant experience is high, a group of individuals can easily complete the task without the effort and coordination normally reserved for teams. If the complexity or ambiguity of the task is high with very little experience available, gather all the resources, a team is needed. In other words, when the going gets tough, the team gets going.
Unfortunately, the formation of a team does not guarantee positive results. Letâ€™s look at the common characteristics of high-performance teams:
They are successful! The result is obtained, the goal is reached. Not once, but continuously; All members agree on clear, relevant, worth-while goals and objectives, and commit to their accomplishment; The team always has a leader, but not necessarily the same person all the time.
There is a mix of people who all contribute in differing, but complimentary, ways producing a result greater than the sum of its parts, i.e. synergy; A balance is struck between task (the â€™what-to-doâ€™) and the concern for the process (the â€™how-to-do-itâ€™). But a sense of urgency always exists.
The team is supportive of each member, encouraging risk taking, creative ideas, and action. Differences of opinion are accepted as part
of the process. However, each person is expected to be responsible for their part and accountable to the team.
Constant improvement and learning is demanded. Complacency is not tolerated; Finally, the team not only works hard but plays hard, enjoying themselves and the rewards of a job well done.
Although competitiveness can, and does, exist within the team and between teams, the philosophy of â€™abundance thinkingâ€™ is common throughout the successful organization and between individual members. Abundance thinking is simply the idea that, in a world driven by information, there is plenty for everyone and the challenge is to find ways for everyone to win. Unfortunately, many people have grown up in an era of scarce or minimal resources and become scarcity thinkers, and since "the pie" is only so big, theyâ€™ve got to get their piece or they will be left with less. Scarcity thinking has no place in teamwork.
Some of the best examples of teamwork are found in the animal kingdom. The next time you see geese flying in formation, youâ€™ll see an excellent example of a team at work. Geese fly in â€™teamsâ€™ to help each other. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the birds behind. By flying as a team (in â€™Vâ€™ formation), the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if flying alone. (Teams share a common direction and sense of purpose and get to their destination quicker and go farther).
When a goose falls out of formation or â€™goes it aloneâ€™, it immediately feels drag and resistance and gets back into the team to take advantage of uplift from other team members. (If weâ€™re smart weâ€™ll head in the same direction as the rest of the team.) When the leader gets tired, he/she rotates back and another goose flies point. (Leaders get tired, too. Share the load.)
The geese also honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up the speed. (When you honk, are you supporting or just complaining?) When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese fall out of formation and follow it down to help and protect their fellow team member. They stay until the goose either dies or flies and then catch up or join another team. (We all should show the same consideration for other team members - its called esprit de corps).
Animals......they always seem to have a way of showing us how it should be done. Go, Team!
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Gary Lockwood is Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.
Phone: (951) 739-7444
* Email: Gary @ BizSuccess.com