Is there a soft edge in business? (article 3, teamwork)

December 28, 2015

Blue Angels
The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, with aviators from the Navy and Marines. The team was formed in 1946, The pilots fly the F/A-18 Hornet.

Look up the word teamwork in your Google search engine, 66.8 million results come up, Key in teamwork in the workplace and the number is reduced to 25.5 million. What if you looked up teamwork for your workplace how many results would come up? Most likely there would be as many as there are individuals at your workplace. The more important question is, what does it say?

We’ve all heard the saying  “there is no I in team” in my opinion this can’t be further from the truth, as a team is made up of individuals who are expected to contribute in some way to win the game, finish a project, achieve a goal and so forth. Does a baseball team have two shortstops playing at the same time? How many quarterbacks can be on the field of play at one time? Of course the answer to these questions is 1 and 1, so a team is obviously made up of individuals, and in many cases these individuals are looking for their own self-interest.

“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi

Now that we’ve established that teams are made up of individuals, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can begin to focus on the individual to create a high performance team.

The most essential is to recruit for things like, great attitude, cooperativeness, flexibility, respect for others, self-motivation; then train/coach the skills needed to achieve your teams’ goals, yes training costs money, but so does the ruined morale of a team.

A recent study by leadership IQ, (A Mark Murphy company) found that 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job, and only 11% because they lack the necessary technical skills. The study encompassed 5200+ hiring managers in over 300 private/public companies.

From a pro sports team perspective there are countless examples of players who were passed over for others with presumably better skill sets, yet, they achieved both personal and team success, guys like:

Joe Montana, 3rd round pick (82nd overall) 4-time Super bowl champ, 3 times Super bowl MVP, 2 times NFL MVP, hall of fame inductee.

Tom Brady, 6th round (199th overall) 4-time super bowl champ, 3 times super bowl MVP, 2 times NFL MVP and the list goes on. In other words, evaluate recruit and hire talent based on the premise that who the person is counts as much (if not more) as what they know at any point in time.

I’m neither a 49ers nor a Patriots fan however, I do respect the contributions these guys made to their respective teams and their individual achievements.

Some other focus areas to create a high performance team are as follows:

  1. Assign tasks that enable team members to use their strengths.
  2. No team member is good at everything, so stop trying to fix the weakness, instead focus the time and effort in improving their strengths.
  3. Establish the goals, yes, but more importantly define what a win is in your organization.
  4. Know that conflict will happen, therefore establish the rules for conflict resolution early on in the process.
  5. Poor performance should be dealt with immediately, as it can permeate across the team quickly.
  6. As your team goes from win to win, they should be given more authority as to the work and the decisions that affect it.
  7. Develop a culture of accountability. And be accountable yourself.

Continually monitor and train for needs in soft “edge” skills like:

  • How to coach other employees,
  • How to voice opinions
  • Being open to feedback (coachable)
  • Presentation skills
  • Creativity/innovation
  • Problem solving/decision making
  • Adaptability
  • Communication

In conclusion, we are all challenged as individuals and as teams on a daily basis yet the commitment to the team and its challenges are often times harder to overcome as things like apathy, conflict regarding goal achievement, ambiguity in meetings and slow decision process can all take a team by storm and undermine its purpose.

By applying some of the aforementioned insights you as a team member, or team leader can overcome many of the obstacles that a team will face. However, don’t hesitate in either case (member/leader) to commit and contribute as an individual.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” — Phil Jackson

Write Mike

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *