Nurturing Winning Teams

In a world obsessed with personal glory, inspirational individuals and strong people who can lift a failing organization by the scruff of its neck and shake it into a winner, teamwork is often an understated, under-recognized virtue.

However, being social creatures, most people love to work in teams (that are not dysfunctional). If a team allows an individual to safely present ideas for discussion, be heard, and be valued as a contributor, the chances of the team being successful and the organization being successful are significantly higher.

High-performing organizations such as Cisco, Google, and others are promoting teaming and networking within their organizations. This is hardly surprising, because a Deloitte study says over 70% of organizations see gains in performance on switching to a team-based approach. There are multiple benefits of working in teams:

1. Increased Effectiveness – Tougher tasks can be split among people so that complementary skills can be leveraged.

2. Social Pressure – Teammates tend to rely on each other, and a well-functioning team can step up to minimize slacking.

3. More Innovation – Winning teams are a whole greater than the sum of their parts. Diversity of thought and a climate of trust can go a long way in creating a culture of innovation.

4. Culture of Performance – People engaging in collaborative problem-solving are able to use conflict in a healthy manner and deliver better business outcomes.

It is easy to get tempted and classify people into team players and solo players, without checking to see if as a leader, you have done anything to promote a team culture. In Patrick Lencioni’s words, the ideal team player is humble, hungry and smart. But usually, not every person fits the template and leaders need to use a mix of techniques to get the right kind of people playing for their team.

1. Hiring – Recruit people with the right skills and the right behavioural traits, using validated assessment tools. Tools like The TMA Method help in not only recruitment but development as well, by identifying the talents of individuals, their learning styles and their motives as well.

2. Ways of working – Create an atmosphere that builds psychological safety and allows people to express vulnerability without judgment. As a leader, encourage people to be their authentic selves and nurture trusting relationships.

3. Effective meeting techniques – There are multiple ways to make sure that meetings are productive and useful. From Amazon’s ‘two pizza rule’ (the number of people at a meeting must not be more than what can be reasonably fed by two pizzas) to a lot of meeting models. A very effective model is the GARD Work model by Culture Pros. When facilitated properly, it creates alignment on Goals, Agendas, Roles, Decision-making, and how we will work together.

4. Conflict management – Conflict is not a bad word, unmanaged and uncontrolled conflict is. If everyone were to agree with everyone else, new ideas would either not appear or not be encouraged enough. A leader’s responsibility is to channel conflict so that people can respectfully present their own ideas, not be attacked for them, and help create better and stronger output.

5. Pay & Benefits – Leaders need to balance the intrinsic hunger that people have for achievement with behavioural nudges accomplished by rewards and incentives. A well structured rewards and benefits plan ensures that employees get financial benefits as well as the necessary recognition for displaying the right behaviors.

It is great to have individuals who are ‘game-changers’ in a team, but it is far better to have a entire team that can change games as well. One of the greatest athletes of our generation, Michael Jordan sums it up rather well, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

Sam Reeve

Sam is the CEO and founder of CompTeam.

His core focus is leading companies through transformational change by optimizing talent initiatives with reward programs to achieve long-term strategic objectives.  

Sam’s diverse experience includes the design and optimization of performance-driven variable compensation plans for executive, sales and core employee populations of growing companies.

Prior to founding CompTeam, Sam has worked in compensation functions of notable firms such as BlackRock,  McKesson and Automatic Data Processing (ADP).

Sam is a global certified compensation consultant (CCP, GRP) with over 20 years of experience in Total Reward Strategies.

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