Teamwork – Bunkers, Goals and a lot of Racquet!
So much sport going on right now, Wimbledon, check. World Cup, so last week. Now The Open! OK we might not be winning it all, but hey with a splendid summer in full flow, the sunshine can make everything better. Sunshine provides us with massive doses of vitamin D aka ‘the happy vitamin’ and for many managers out there you could be witnessing heightened levels of general happiness in your teams.
Having a team that works well together can make a huge difference to levels of productivity, levels of engagement which is management speak for ‘loving their work’ and general feelings of wellbeing. Sickness tends to drop, incidence of stress reduces, and as mentioned, get a big dose of sun too and things are very chipper.
For any managers reading this right now, it might be worth handing over to your teams, they should be reading this next bit. Having an effective team is not the responsibility of the manager solely. The team must play their part in making things happen, contributing and generally creating the bulk of the culture. Outside of the manager, roles should be identified in the team, there will always be the natural leader or alpha person, there are the ideas people, the social butterflies and the detailed control freaks, the networkers and those who like rules and regulations. Managing these and other personality types is important as it nurtures team dynamic by playing to strengths and further enhances the culture. The famous team analysis tool Belbin is particularly useful to help identify team roles and help manage and develop the individuals within it.
Very recently during ‘that’ World Cup match, Germany demonstrated some outstanding skill in their obliteration of Brazil. Reporting the following day, the London Evening Standard talked through the key reasons why the team worked so well, listing seven reasons, nothing in the number 7 then!These each resonate with teams and businesses outside of football and are worth mentioning again.
1- Organise, organise, organise – When teams work together they become a single unit, able to overcome adversity and achieve outstanding results. German efficiency is well documented and to a large degree, expected. Within the team you work in, what can you do better together to make yourselves more organised, ordered and efficient? Start small, declutter then work up addressing processes and practices that may well be outdated or in need of a refresh.
2 -Always prepare – Ah the old saying ‘fail to prepare and you prepare to fail’ so true. Preparation, rehearsal whatever you want to call it can highlight kinks and creases that can easily be ironed out, however when left, can become flaws and problems often too big and too late to sort out. Understanding potential weakness can improve strength, it is not negative, indeed the outcome can produce business saving outcomes.
3 – Be Direct – When something isn’t right, don’t grumble about it in the background, speak up. Clear the air and get it sorted. Try to avoid using fluffy lingo that just slows things down. Being direct doesn’t mean being aggressive. It is, when delivered effectively; assertive, assured and authoritative, not to mention, refreshing.
4 – Work as a Team – The sum of the total is greater than the individual parts. Look at what you can achieve together, establish what could happen should one person be removed and what the effects are. Plan for it too and establish succession plan and create contingency. Working together creates good anticipation skills too and can really help if the team gets itself into a jam. A strong team working together can be akin to a family unit, strong and undivided, looking out for each other and delivering results.
5 – Act Clinically – This can come across as cold, but sometimes when there is a demonstration of weakness from an outside force or opposing team, then jump on it. Seize the moment, exploit the weakness and demolish. Competitive advantage is everything in business and it is not achieved through simply being ‘lovely’. In a previous role, the business sales teams were split by division, the team that worked in ‘Computing’ as it was known were perceived to be the best, the place to be, the elite, and when you got into that team you felt like something very special. They did not get there by being particularly ‘lovely’ people, I mean they were lovely, but not in the traditional sense, they were aggressive, assertive and competitive and always knew when to turn on process and separate business from personal. This clinical focus does not allow for error or emotion, instead it focusses on facts, tangibles and skills, all of which are delivering results.
6 – Be Disciplined – Yes we all need times to let our hair down and have some fun. But in order to appreciate this, a strong element of discipline needs to be engaged. It is my belief to associate the word ‘execution’ with discipline. It seems to me that tasks, projects and results are delivered with a better execution of process when discipline is applied. Discipline is a good habit, like going to gym, but not in a just ‘showing up and going through the motions’ kind of way, but by really pushing yourself. Being balanced; we can often find people who are disciplined to an extreme; lack the skills of emotional intelligence, especially around empathy and self awareness. They become cold, unapproachable and often dismissive of others, so be aware of developing this skill, don’t do it by compromising others or exerting force where it is not needed or welcomed.
7 – Stay Humble – When big sports stars lose to a better opponent, Federer for example at Wimbledon, who is such a gentlemen, (mind you for his consultation prize I would be too, but that is another issue) or Luiz Felipe Scolari at the World Cup, it is great to see acts of humbleness and humility being carried out. In the latter case Miroslav Klose openly consoled Scolari. Yes, I am sure there is the inevitable fist air pump at defeating an opponent, but these two chaps were very supportive of their respective winners and this level of emotional intelligence is a true sign that teamwork is important and should be acknowledged.
In summary what makes your team a winning team. Are they using any of these team working skills to make themselves better and stronger. Have your teams gone through change or experienced anything adverse? Have your teams excelled at anything, won an award perhaps? Maybe now is the time to look at how each of these seven areas of team working can make a difference to the way you work, and the results you can achieve.
Thank you for reading this blog, it forms part of the Team Building Journey offered by the SerialTrainer7. If you manage a team, and would like to understand the roles using the Belbin tool mentioned in the blog, or perhaps you might be looking for an exciting and challenging team building activity that takes your team outside of the normal ‘raft building’ activity then get in touch. Drop me, Simon an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.