I’m not sure who came up with the phrase – ‘There’s no ‘I’ in team’, and I’m sure it was meant with good intentions – focussing everyone on team work and collective goals and not individual egos. I’ve always used the hugely clever and witty repost whenever anyone has said the phrase in my presence…’Ah yes, but there is an M and E’ – Hilarious!
But, and I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently, I still think there is significant value in focussing on the individuals in a team – their individual strengths, skills, experiences and accountability as well as the interactions between team members. This is especially true of senior teams or teams where individuals within it have ownership of their own teams.
In larger businesses, teams come in all shapes and sizes, from an Executive Board, Senior Management Team, Divisional Team, Sales Teams, Customer Service Teams, Cross-functional Project Teams and so on. Teams are created for both long-term and short-term interaction. A product management team, an executive leadership team, and a departmental team are more often long-lasting planning and operational groups. Short term teams might include a team to plan the annual company event, or a team to respond to a specific customer problem or complaint. Not all teams can be treated or thought about in the same way.
When teams are getting results – all is good. People celebrate together, don’t really need to worry about improvement and feel they are at the top of their game.
What happens when things aren’t so great?
I’ve found that there are 4 key reasons that prevent teams from being optimal – ‘The best that they can be’
1. Goals and Objectives are not clear
In short, not everyone on the team gets it! What’s the vision? What are the team striving to achieve? What metrics are used to measure team performance? What milestones are to be achieved by when….and crucially, why is what the team is doing important. AND where do ‘I’ fit in?
2. Roles and Responsibilities not clear
How many times have you heard the phrase – ‘Oh no, that’s not my job, that’s ….’ or ‘Well I can’t do anything about that until Dave’s done his bit’ or ‘We were waiting for someone to make a decision’? Heard any of those recently? Symptoms of lack of clear ownership and accountability!
When building a team, it’s hugely important for everyone to know the boundaries they have to work within, what their key responsibilities are and what decisions are required of them in their roles.
3. Relationships – Non-existent or not strong enough for a successful team
Without powerful relationships, no team can truly achieve their potential. Fact. This requires work, honesty, straight talking, generous listening and a commitment from every team member to support each others’ success. At worst, you’ll have saboteurs in your team, actively striving for the downfall of others. With the best relationships, people will coach and support each other, represent each other with projects and play to win!
4. No Leadership
I’ve worked with some fantastic managers in my time, but few leaders. Great leaders inspire teams to be greater than the sum of their parts. Great leaders anticipate potential futures and plan from there, not from today. Great Leaders cheer the progress and not just the results. Leaders do think about the ‘Me’ in team. If they didn’t, I’m not sure they would get the best out of every individual…and certainly not the team.