I’ve been reading a lot over the Christmas period and reflecting on 2013 and the various opportunities I’ve had when in coaching situations with leadership teams, the reading has helped consolidate my own reflections about what causes a team to become dysfunctional and more importantly how to create a high performing team and a sustainable winning culture.
Most organisations lose a lot of energy finger pointing, the senior team pointing at the middle managers and the middle managers in turn pointing their finger at the rest of the staff within their team. It reminds me of the upper, middle and lower class sketch done with the 2 Ronnies and John Cleese some years ago and is played out on a daily basis within a lot of the blue chip companies I’ve had the privilege to work with over the past 14 years as a consultant/coach.
There’s a view that it’s someone else’s problem! The senior leaders thinking that if it wasn’t for the middle managers and then in turn the same thought occurs with the middle managers thinking that if it wasn’t for their team, all would work smoothly. And then of course you have a majority of the lower levels of staff thinking that the middle managers and senior leaders don’t seem to have a clue as to what’s going on or how they should run the business!
The amount of lost hours given over to a lack of clarity around what is the most important thing to be focusing on and having a coherent message across all divisions of the company causes much of the chaos within most organisations. This is often referred to as the gun pointing inwards as opposed to them pointing out towards the enemy!
In Patrick Lencioni’s latest book “The Advantage” he talks about the 4 steps that you need to take to build and maintain a competitive edge, oddly enough we’ve been taking a very similar approach when working with our clients.
Build a Cohesive Senior Team.
Sounds fairly simple! One of the key blockers to already having a cohesive team is the lack of trust, by far trust is the foundation where everything is built. When there is a lack of trust, you usually see team members defending their silo/division within the business. If another team member cannot trust a colleague, they cannot engage in healthy conflict enabling them to state their view of the world and know they’ve been listened to and heard properly.
A lack of conflict will impact on individual commitment and, in turn, will lead to a lack of accountability which finally, will have an impact on the result/goal you are pursuing.
One of the most effective ways to check if a team is dysfunctional or not is to see whether there is clarity across all of the divisions within the organisation; is one team saying one thing and another the opposite?
A high performing team will usually have complete clarity around the direction of where the company is going and how they are going to get there, they also have an understanding of who is responsible for what and give each other feedback on any behaviours that are not in line with the core values of the business.
Steps 2,3 & 4 are all around creating a clear communication strategy and then repeating that consistently to ensure everyone in the organisation is hearing the same message or put another way, singing from the same hymn sheet.