1 + 1 = 3: How to Create Deep-Performing Teams
I’ve been involved in creating deep-performing teams and leaders as a performance coach for many years now. I’d been building the same teams and leaders as a fighter pilot and entrepreneur for more than two decades before. And now, I have the unique opportunity to observe teams across extremely diverse functions, and frankly, it has been incredibly fascinating. By understanding conceptually why teams are important, we can prioritise the simple methods that achieve alignment of the individuals within the team. If you’re worried you’ll lose the acknowledgment we crave as individuals, don’t! Whilst there’s no “I” in ‘team', there is in ‘winning team'! Individual empowerment comes about as a function of being part of a deep-performing team that works together to find its greatest success!
What are the Keys to Creating Deep Performing Teams?
Deep-performing teams come together through the creation and alignment of simple objectives! This is the key differentiator between good and great companies. Wasn’t it Jim Collins himself who stated “Visionary companies are 1% vision and 99% alignment”? Through a commitment to effective teamwork, you’ll achieve a productivity multiple that delivers impressive results.
What I find most interesting is each organisation fundamentally believes that they are different. In some respects, it’s true – one organisation may be a charity, the other public service, another may be an elite sporting team or a corporate entity. Very different products and services. However, from a human performance perspective, you may be surprised to learn that these organisations are by and large the same. How so? There is a trend in organisations to focus on the individual, they call it “talent” or investment in individual development. Astonishing amounts of money are spent on recruiting, onboarding, and training individuals in an organisation.
Depending on where you look, studies show that recruiting can be anywhere from 5%-30% of an employee’s salary. Then there is training and integration into the organisation, and it is shown that it takes around one to two full years for employees to be fully productive in their roles. Losing employees and re-hiring, if occurring in a two-year cycle, can cost up to 30% of an average employee salary for entry-level positions, and 200% + for C-suite levels. With the constant hunt for new talent and “the next big thing”, we run the risk of neglecting the most important part of any business – our existing and dedicated team!
The 5 Key Traits of An Effective Team
By effectively managing a team, we harness the diversity of human beings, which is something we are unable to achieve in a single individual. According to David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom the essential traits of an effective team are:
- Creating dependability through trust in the team to get things done, when they need to be done. Trust is driven through accountability by each team member to deliver on their objectives.
- An understanding of how each team member will contribute to the overall “big picture” or the organisation’s long-term vision. Each team member knows what they have to do to achieve the objectives.
- Communicating clearly to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands their roles in delivering the organisation’s objectives. Encouraging open and honest communication in the form of debriefing to build respect and trust amongst the team.
- Objective assessment of performance can occur once alignment and trust are established. This in turn creates constructive conflict and this type of conflict or critique should be encouraged!
- Appreciation of each other. Individuals appreciate recognition for a job well done and the team appreciates the efforts of the individual. Sharing appreciation and achieving small tasks regularly is a huge motivation driver and it’s why these companies are so successful.
A Few Tips for Creating Your Super Team!
Creating a super team is challenging, but not impossible! Here are some tips for creating your super team. Firstly, there must be a commitment to becoming a great team, whether you’re a team leader or a team member. Don't forget that the standards that the leaders set are the standards that team members follow, set good standards! Work together to create a simple plan that sets three simple objectives for the year, quarter, and week ahead, that are aligned with your organisation’s strategy.
Each team member must develop and commit to three enabling objectives, aligned to the whole team’s plan, to create accountability to deliver on these objectives within 90 days. Meet once a week as a team, for no more than an hour, to allow each team member to review their progress against their objectives. Seeing where you are against the goal helps you as individuals and as a team to ensure that the direction you are heading is in direct alignment with the ultimate goal. Without meeting regularly and reassessing, you run the risk of veering off course and never knowing it.
Participate in a team-building exercise every six months. This is a great way for the team to work together on a new task with a new subject matter. This helps keep the relationships invigorated and provides an opportunity to develop and observe the natural strengths and weaknesses of the team (without the security blanket or bias of our own organisation’s structure). This is really valuable for all team members to reflect on how best they can contribute to the team and who to go to when they need help. Share leadership roles amongst the group. The team leader has the casting vote on all matters, however, allow a different team member to lead the weekly “how are we tracking?” meeting. It helps develop their confidence and allows the team leader to observe the team and reflect on the “bigger picture”.
You Will Never Regret Time Spent Developing Effective Teams
We meet the deep-rooted social needs of individuals seeking a sense of community through our team's supportive peer group. We then align this empowered team to the long-term vision of our organisation, creating a disproportionate effect in our business, manifesting our “1 + 1 = 3” equation. This 1+1=3 equation will unlock your potential for creating deep-performing teams!
Mayall, T. (n.d.). How long does it take for an employee to be fully productive? Recruit Shop. https://recruitshop.com.au/blog/2017/05/01/long-take-employee-fully-productive/#:~:text=Very%20few%20new%20hires%20work,previous%20employee%20for%202%20years.
Merhar, C. (2020). Employee retention: The real cost of losing an employee. People Keep. https://www.peoplekeep.com/blog/employee-retention-the-real-cost-of-losing-an-employee