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Truth about Teams
We all start out selfish...
Everyone joins a team, member or leader, based on what they believe the team will do for them.
“We need to sacrifice self for the greater good of the team.”
“It is about the name on the front of the jersey not the back.”
It seems these noble sentiments and rally cries are rarely top motivators for people to join a team. While widely adopted, cherished and spoken, these motivational cliches are not starting points for building teams, and I would assert they are not even very motivational. At best they become sentiments shared by team members if, and only if, teams are nurtured effectively over time, they are not the motivations from which teams begin.
Creating teams with elevated performance begins with a couple of key understandings of why people join teams and why teams exist.
Everyone participates on a team for what it can do for them personally.
Every team leader takes on a team member based on their belief of what value that person can bring the leader.
Every team exists based on the fact that alone the vision and objectives can not be achieved…the envisioned outcome of the leader requires the contributions of others.
This does not mean that teams cannot come to function with unity to serve an objective greater than their personal ambitions and talents. In fact it is true this is what occurs when teams operate from an elevated performance level, however, that is not the predominant mindset when teams are forming.
So if we accept these truths what changes?
Our approach does.
We focus on the who before we focus on the what.
Jim Collins research on what separates sustaining great organizations from the others revealed many of these great organizations were focused on forming the team prior to landing on what they do.
“First Who, Then What” - Jim Collins
The leaders of the sustaining great organizations defined the vision and values for how they would function as a team and sought people who aligned with this and who would thrive in that environment prior to deciding on what the product or service would be.
Teams reaching a consistent and sustaining elevated performance level have a leader who clearly articulates and defines how a team will answer and live out the following information to team members:
Vision - why are here and what are we trying to create
Values for decision-making - what guides our actions
Objectives & Key Results - what sets direction and how team progress is measured
Feedback —what shapes the iterative growth and change processes for the team
Additionally, all teams that reach a consistent and sustainable elevated performance have a team leader who:
first seeks to understand what the motivators are for each team member to feel being a part of the team is a success for them; and second guides them on a path to achieve both their personal and team goals or helps them see that they are not the leader and this is not the team for them.
Teams that operate with an elevated performance over their ‘peer/competitor’ teams are not made up of more noble or talented people. Rather, they achieve at a higher level over time through transparent and honest communications and processes about motivations and ambitions they create the right mixture of people who’s ambitions align with the vision, needs and ways of that particular team.
All teams want to reach higher performance but few are intentional and effective in it; resulting in frustration, under-performance, and ultimately failure. TeamSHEP is designed to guideteams (leaders and members) to avoid failure and reach elevated levels of performance, productivity and joy.
Here is a link to a great article by Robert Glazer on this topic. Your Team Is More Important Than Your Business Strategy. Here’s Why
I love this quote he included; University of Michigan, for example, softball coach Carol Hutchins (“Hutch,” to most of her players) has made the case this way: “If I lose a recruit, she might beat me twice a year. If I make a mistake on a recruit, she beats me every day.”