How are effective high performing teams created?
I guess this question throws one’s mind into a spin. There are so many factors, you might say – capable team members, clearly defined roles, inspired leadership, clear direction; good strategy; ability to work together and so on.
Of course these all have high relevance but there is one factor that underpins all of this – it all starts with the people, the team members! Obvious, I hear you say. But it does, it really does.
You may argue that it actually starts with the team leader since he or she selects the people, and I may concede that point, but unfortunately many team leaders are not clear on what kind of people they want to recruit into the team or where to find them.
If I had worked as an executive in a specific company for much of my career, I would know a lot about my company, the business we’re in, maybe some of our clients and of course I would know many of the employees, particularly those whom I’d dealt with directly. I don’t, though, really know what other companies are doing and I don’t necessarily know where the industry leaders are heading. Not many firms make industry and competitor knowledge a key performance indicator or success criterion.
So, if we are successful, we carry on doing what we do and probably do well. We tend to employ and promote people we know and people who have been successful in their career so far and “deserve” promotion. These are safe pairs of hands and we can sleep comfortably.
Nothing wrong with that if they are the people who will take you on to the next horizon, to overcome the next challenge and to define the next wave of evolution. But if they also have seen one strategic theme, one operating model, one management style, how are they going to inspire with innovative thinking that challenges the firm to act differently? Because in these highly competitive days that’s what is required.
Maybe they can but it would be unusual.
This is where the future starts. If we set about seeking out and taking on a limited number of people into our teams who, from their own different experiences, will engage and challenge the team with alternative points of view, in new and viable concepts, then the conversation that will follow is one that has the potential to open the minds of the overall team to new ways of doing business.
Injecting carefully and thoughtfully a limited amount of new blood is the beginning. It’s only the beginning and it needs to be done right.