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by Jenni Miller and Alison Grieve, Directors of Management Dynamics and creators of The 5 Dynamics of High Performing Teams
Industry View from
Time spent working as part of a team is increasing massively year on year, with virtual teams also more frequent in the multi-national or dispersed workforce which is becoming so common. And yet, according to Harvard Business Review, 75 per cent of teams are dysfunctional and 60 per cent of teams fail to deliver. Getting it right can be hard and requires a unique set of skills on the part of the leader.
Leaders and teams are also now working in increasingly ambiguous and complex environments, factors which can really get in the way of high performance. Organisations are continuously shifting and reorganising to stay lean and nimble and respond to changing customer needs, so teams feel the impact of that. It’s essential that they find ways to get to and, most importantly, maintain high performance within that context.
Over the next few decades, as we see an increase in the digitalisation of many jobs, quintessentially human skills such as collaboration and innovation, which a robot cannot do, will become even more important. It is essential that we get teamworking right – fast!
The business benefits of high-performing teams are significant and have been proven by research. More effective teams deliver better results (Guttman, 2015), achieve up to a 14 per cent increase in profit (Gallup) and higher productivity (Wiseman, 2017), have lower employee turnover – it can be halved (Blanchard) – and higher levels of wellbeing (Oxford University, 2009). It’s clearly worth the effort to invest in moving your teams from average to high-performing.
So what is it that creates high performance in teams? What’s that magic formula? From our research we have found that, when leaders get these five things right, they consistently create high performance and maintain it, even when things are changing around them:
They create a compelling Reason. A great leader understands their team members’ key motivations and what makes them tick. They know that people whose values are fulfilled on a daily basis give more and care more about the work that they do. This also creates fulfilment which has massive benefits on a personal and organisational level. They create a compelling reason for the team to exist and help align individual team members’ values with that reason.
They provide absolute clarity on Results. A great leader provides absolute clarity on what is expected of the team and the individuals within it. They crystalise the team’s goals and objectives into no more than five “big whats”, or accountabilities, and make sure the team knows how to measure and track progress against them. They also ensure that each team member knows what their contribution is to the big whats, and what the opportunities for collaboration are in the team.
They help the team to build great Relationships. A great leader knows that relationships within their team are crucial to their success and helps build trust among team members. They help team members embrace challenge and diverse points of view to ensure they have the opportunity to weigh in on decision making. When conflict occurs, it is managed and addressed appropriately. They make sure that teams hold each other accountable for delivering what they say they will deliver and support each other on that delivery by collaborating appropriately.
They create robust Routines. A great leader knows that robust routines enable a team to succeed. They create decision-making methods that enable the team to work nimbly and without the manager being a bottleneck. They set up and run effective meetings and ensure the team uses email and other communication methods well. The adjust routines to suit the environment, the output and the team’s needs as these things change.
They Review everything regularly. A great leader is constantly reviewing how the team is doing. They are scanning the team’s environment to see what is changing and making small and large adjustments as necessary to ensure high performance can be maintained.
We call these “The Five Dynamics of High-Performing Teams”, and have created a methodology, a set of tools and a series of diagnostics to help leaders focus on the right things in their team. It starts with a team diagnostic which asks all of the team members to assess the team (not the leader) on the five dynamics. This provides a baseline of where the team is. The team can then choose where to focus their efforts based on where the biggest gaps are, using the relevant tools from the leader’s toolkit over a period of time. It’s a highly practical, engaging process which sees quick results, which the team can assess through further diagnostics.
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