February 24, 2014 at 6:10 am #181647
Having mentored hundreds of high-performing teams over the years, I have seen great successes. Unfortunately, I have also seen far too many failures. Obviously, my experiences bring up a big question: “Why is it that many organizations can’t consistently keep high-performing teams working in all areas?”
Your thoughts are highly appreciated.
February 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm #181659
This is quite simple, no teams stay high performing for indefinite amounts of time. Inevitably, a member leaves or joins and the team development process begins again. Regardless of who departs or joins, identities shift. Along with this throughout the time each individual on the team is learning, developing new skills, knowledge and roles are questioned. Team building is an ongoing processes, not just a step at the beinging of a team.
February 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm #181657
Much like the way there is no such thing as an individual who is an effective leader in spite of the context, I doubt there are high-performing teams that can remain so in spite of their context.
Maybe you watched an otherwise stellar group of hockey players unexpectedly lose to a Finnish team 5-0 on Saturday. Circumstances change, and not all circumstances bring out the absolute best in everyone, even when they have much to contribute.
Homilies aside, I suppose one might suggest that the sorts of roles team members take on can easily change, depending on the project. For project/challenge B, the person who might have been a natural in a certain role for project/challenge A, is a little weak. There can be cohesion and alignment of group understanding for one project, that can come undone because the same person/role matchups are not a perfect match for another project. If the shared tacit understandings about who does what, who is best at what, and who can be relied on for what, are aligned with every successive project or underatking, then one would expect to see such teams performing at a consistently high level. Sadly, I don’t think the projects that get thrown at teams are so considerate as to align themselves with group understanding.
February 25, 2014 at 2:17 pm #181655
As simple as it might sound, proper project planning is KEY when it comes to keeping your workforce engaged. While every organization is different, we all have a mission to achieve. What direction can we gain from our strategic plans (if we have them)? What are we doing to encourage our high-performing teams to contribute proposals and ideas for work that is challenging, rewarding, and mission-focused? Are we encouraging this discussion and process on an annual basis? (Just my thoughts…from the perspective of a “high-performing team-member.”)
March 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm #181653
I agree with your point of view from the perspective of a particular team it is dynamic and high performing state does shift when events occur as you suggest. To your point team building is an ongoing process. When I made the post it was with more of an organization-wide view. Hit-or miss success with given teams and atrophy of overall interest in sustaining overall focus on HPTS.
March 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm #181651
Really like your point “don’t think the projects that get thrown at teams are so considerate as to align themselves with group understanding.‘ is very perceptive.
Too often there is not nearly enough attention to giving new HPTs the fundamentals needed to form and sustain.
Many things coming into play including lacking a well understood and facilitated process around something that has real meaning for the organization and those involved. Too much ‘poke and hope’ going on by leaders trying to get something done.
March 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm #181649
Thinking you are spot on with the idea that the up-front planning is crucial. Some experts suggest 97% of success is preparation and 3% execution. Not sure I go that far, depending on the situation at hand, but certainly supports your assertion there must be alignment from several points of view.
September 15, 2014 at 6:12 pm #231917
Having managed a truly stellar team in the past, I found I constantly had to remind myself that simply because they were great at their job didn’t mean I should give them every task that they could do. Many managers have the propensity to give the toughest or most important projects to the highest performing teams. This is a pretty logical habit, but piling every difficult task onto a great team can lead to burnout and, occasionally, resentment over workload compared to less proficient coworkers. Providing channels for your employees to comfortable discuss workload and distribution can help mitigate this effect, but the onus is ultimately up to the manager to make sure they are leveraging the effective team without leaning too heavily on them.
January 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm #238140
Ron – I believe in large part that leaders must deliberately and consistently seek to nurture the people and associated culture. I’m a huge fan of the commericial philosophy to take care of people, products, and profits – in that order. In Government, we can say “people, service, resources” – the latter to refer to prudent use of taxpayor money. Those leaders who are most outstanding will find that the team continues to function a a high state because the disciplines continue, but the new leader must also adopt the philosophy. Fortunately, many in Government are passonate about their mission, but when a leader fails to nuture the health of relationships, the speed of work slows dramaticlaly if relationships among members begins to falter.
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