Last week, my colleague, Frank Van Gool, talked about dysfunctional teams, and I want to build on that in this week’s blog.
What makes a great team?
To some people, the word “team” conjures up a vision of everyone agreeing with each other . . . and getting along . . . and having group hugs! I think they’ve may have missed the point.
From my experience, one of the key ingredients of a great team is diversity. Great teams need introverts and extroverts. They need deep thinkers and broad thinkers, and practical people and academics. And these folk don’t always get on that well.
So the challenge with teams is, “How do you make diversity the plus in the equation and not the minus?”
It just so happens that when you do this well, people do tend to get along - and they may even have the occasional “group hug” - but that isn’t the point. The point is that we need to work in teams more and more these days for very good business reasons. Because today’s problems are often too complex to solve by going it alone and good teamwork impacts the bottom line.
So how do you get synergy out of diversity? Well, I think there are two things that can help. One is trust and the other is open mindedness. I’m going to focus this blog on trust. I’ll come back to open mindedness in my next blog.
TRUST - not trust that you’re not going to steal my wallet (although that’s important), but trust that you have the same corporate goals as me. And trust that you’re not going to try to make yourself look good at my expense. Because if you are . . . then I’m going to spend a lot of energy protecting myself against that.
If, on the other hand, I know that you’re looking out for me, and that if I drop the ball, you’ll just pick it up - that will free up a lot of energy that I can on use on more important stuff.
Trust also means that I’m going to be more comfortable sharing my strengths with you, and also my weakness - so that you can draw on my strengths and cover off some of my weaknesses.
Finally - and this is a big one - teams tend to make a lot of decisions collaboratively - which is a good thing. But the downside is that it can be time consuming. And who has time to spare these days?
However, when trust levels in a team are high, more decisions can be made autocratically – and this can save a ton of time.
Let me give you an example. When I meet with my colleagues to discuss business issues, we talk about the marketplace, our people and our finances. Now I’m not very good at finances and I can’t read a budget sheet to save my life. And if I didn’t have high levels of trust in my colleagues I’d spend a lot of time trying to make sense of the numbers to make sure that I’m not getting shafted. But because I have such high levels of trust in my colleagues - if the finances are good for them - they’re good for me - and we move on.
Finally, I have saying about spelling, and it’s this. “If you can’t spell a word in more than one way, then you lack imagination”. But with trust it’s different. In teams, there’s only one way to spell trust - and that’s TRUST not TRUSSED.
In my next blog I’ll talk about open mindedness, because when you have trust and open mindedness in a team - then you have a real FORCE MULTIPLIER.
by Brin Sharp