Who wants to be in a better team?
Why ask such a question?
Most people I speak with on the subject can see areas for improvement in the way their teams work. It could be a manager seeking to improve team performance against KPI’s, or team members wanting to work more cohesively. Perhaps it relates to the interaction between teams and the desire to work more co-operatively, with greater collaboration. Given how much time we spend working, it may be the human need to get on better with others, to have more fun and less stress.
Do teams get better automatically?
There are many theories of how teams develop and improve. For example, Bruce Tuckman’s model observed that teams go through a 5-stage process of
- Performing and finally
As the team moves through various stages, performance tends to dip until they work more effectively to reach the performing stage.
In today’s world of work, it seems far more complex. Identifying where the team is and defining a stage of team development is more difficult. People today tend to belong to multiple teams, and the time and commitment they give to each team vary. How the team members interact and connect with each other whether in person or virtually has a significant impact. Teams are dynamic, with team members joining or leaving at an accelerated rate. Also, there are external shocks that can have a major impact on a team. The covid19 pandemic, or technological changes, create significant change which impacts the team. This affects team dynamics and creates new possibilities and ways of working.
If you want to be in a better team, or feel the team can be better, where should you start?
The key question is “What makes a great team for you and your team?.” If we can define it, we can start to measure it and then highlight the areas for improvement. The list below contains many of the characteristics which people talk about when discussing high performing teams. I am sure your and our team can identify what is important to you. If you can, why not rate your current team and your personal contribution to the team against each characteristic. At the very least it will deepen the discussion and help you define what you think and feel makes a good team. It can also provide you with a benchmark to recognise and celebrate any improvements.
Do teams improve performance naturally, even if the criteria have not been identified?
Einstein’s definition of madness “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” applies to team development as much as anything else. Teams need to work on teamwork to create improvement. Identifying changes and trying new things is essential. Get a coach or facilitator, if only to enable the manager to be part of the team. Take time out to specifically review how the team can improve.
Only action generates results.
Development also means keep going. Often there is a dip in performance before it gets better, as shown in the chart. Committing to work through it is part of being a high performing team.
If your answer to the question “Who wants to be in a better team?” is “No because we are already a wonderful team”, then stop and consider all great teams. Whether they are in business, sport, or even family teams, all great teams eventually plateau and decline. The paradox of success is that we need to renew before the start of the decline. We need to change before the ultimate peak in team performance. So, in a sense, the question is not “Who wants to be in a better team?” but “Can my team be better?.” The answer to this almost certainly “Yes.” The challenge now is how to make it happen.
If you are looking to improve the performance of your team, our team at Hansen Beck is ready to support you. Contact us today to find out how.