It is rare that a team of superstars ever performs to the best of their collective ability. The question to answer is: Why?
Because all too often their primary concern is how good they look and how well they are seen to perform, irrespective of the performance of fellow team members.
It is a common mistake to evaluate the effectiveness of a team based on the stats of the individual members. In the world of sport, how often do we hear, “On paper, they are the clear favourites”. To be then beaten by a superior team performance from the supposed underdog opposition.
So what is the glue that holds an effective team together? What is it that makes the ‘whole’ greater than the sum of the individual parts? To the untrained eye, it’s not always glaringly obvious. How do you get the best out of your team?
How to get the best out of your team
Yes, there is a list of things that need to be in place for a team to be effective – Clear purpose, direction, appropriate leadership, clarity of roles and responsibilities, open and honest communication and so on. However, if the foundational core of the team is not there, it won’t matter whatever else you do, the team will never perform at its best.
Call it chemistry, a bond, connectivity, synchronicity, whatever you call it, it doesn’t just happen. It can certainly happen more naturally in some teams than in others, but it still needs working at, both at an individual level as well as a collective level.
I am going to focus on three key areas that form part of this core, that need to be at the very centre of everything the team does in order for it to perform at its very best.
- Self & team awareness
- High levels of trust
- Personal & team commitment
There is an old African proverb that for me sums up the whole ethos of an effective team:
“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”
Teams that work together, teams that work in the best interests of the team vastly outperform those that don’t.
More than anything teams that invest in the time to do the right things to become an effective cohesive team, outperform all others.
Self & team awareness
Self-awareness, self-knowledge is the very heart of personal performance (and therefore team performance).
All too often people get busy on trying to ‘fix’ those around them, completely unaware of the impact that their behaviour and approach has on others, (for better or for worse). People that lack self-awareness have a higher rate of unintended outcomes in terms of what they do and how successfully they interact with others. The more you understand about yourself, how you come across to others and what to do and what not to do, to get the best out of others, the more successful you and your team will be.
However, self-awareness on its own is only half the challenge (or opportunity). The more you understand your fellow team members, the better able you are to identify how best to work with others to achieve your goals. So how do you gain self & team awareness?
There are a number of formal measures, personality, team, strengths, behavioural preferences etc. and at PDW we particularly focus on behavioural profiling, which delivers great insight into self and others. It looks at preference styles and how to maximise the communication and effectiveness of a team. There is no substitute for investing time and having meaningful conversations with your fellow team members and soliciting and sharing feedback.
High levels of trust
The word trust is all too often overused and, with the best intention, used without truly understanding the different levels of trust. When a colleague who you don’t necessarily know that well delivers a piece of high-quality work on time, you are likely to trust that person to do a similar piece of work without hesitation. However, that doesn’t mean that you would trust that person to babysit your two young children. Not because you mistrust them necessarily, but because you just don’t know enough about them; whether they like children, have their own or have any experience of looking after children.
Whilst competence, capability and track record are an important element of trust if you only have a functional understanding of someone’s ability your levels of trust will similarly only ever be superficial. It is only when we invest time, have the right conversations and peel back the layers to understand the needs, wants & motivations of your colleagues, that you achieve a deeper understanding and higher levels of trust.
Superficial trust can be achieved quite easily but is only when situations get really tested that true deep-rooted trust prevails enabling a team to overcome stretching goals and demanding situations. For those that just want to get over the line as quickly as possible, I’m afraid there is no quick fix, it takes time! So make the time and get busy with those conversations.
Personal & team commitment
With heightened levels of self & team awareness, deeper understanding and high levels of trust, you and your team will be in a very strong position. However, it could still all go horribly wrong. One of the most common causes of dysfunctionality and low levels of productivity in team performance is the lack of understanding of what people expect from each other and the inevitable, resultant perception gaps. So much is assumed.
When was the last time you sat down with a colleague and actually discussed what you expect from each other?
By having an open and honest dialogue about what you expect from your team members and understanding what they expect from you is a major step towards achieving your goals. Create a contract for the team and each other, a ‘Team Charter’. A collective commitment based on high levels of trust and deep understanding establishes a very strong and lasting bond that will be the cornerstone of getting the very best out of your team.
Answering the question: How to get the best out of your team
- Develop a heightened level of self-awareness and team awareness.
- Invest time in developing a deep understanding of your fellow team members to establish high levels of trust.
- Never assume, clearly understand the mutual expectations for you and your team, and make a commitment to yourself and each other.
If you would like to know more about how to get the best out of your team, call us on 0115 940 4966 or contact us today.