Organization Development : Team Building : Leadership Training : Executive Coaching : Facilitation

Successful Teams: What makes them?

What are the right action steps to take for a successful team? I have been pondering this question for several weeks now. Is it logistics, Fishbone charts, 8D Problem Solving, 6 Sigma Projects, training programs, Gen x workers Gen y workers – millennials, baby boomers etc…
Are you prepared for a successful team – many people and leaders say yes and do not really mean it. A team that has success is also a team that has failures – many – many failures. A team with success also has challenges – many – many – many challenges. A team with success has conflict – lots – lots – lots of conflict. A team with success is honest and trusting – the leadership & team members share with the team all that is going on.
With all these successful team ideas it is scary for a leadership team to accept failure (they may look like they cannot lead within the team! Although who do they look bad too? Themselves – their peers? – their families? – other team members?) To accept and encourage failure – this is a skill that is not taught and rarely incorporated into our LOP or SOP’s. Without the fear of failure in our teams we also lose the joy of success.
Conflict is one of the scariest words I use – conflict itself has conflict all over it. I encourage you to see conflict (not character assassination, belittlement and bullying) as love. How often do you and your teams have a meeting or training and the people are all polite to each other and you can feel the tension in the room. Once the team is out of the meeting the water cooler talk starts, “can you believe s/he said that, s/he is always kissing up, I do not agree to any of those statement! I would have said something but my ideas are never listened to, I should have her job, he only is there because he plays golf with the CEO” These internal feelings of restlessness cause resentment and bleed into work habits. Take a moment and think about conflicts that you yourself have been a part of – what caused them? How were they resolved? Do you still feel scorned? How did this affect your work? Scary!
To have a successful team a great team you must be able to work and “raise up” these feeling of resentment that the team is feeling. A system of rewards for team success – the switch comes on for the problem is on the inside of me as a team member. As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see”.
I feel that this comes back to transparency. The team must feel aware of what is going on – this is challenging when in our past behaviors the person with the information is in power, and employees should know as little as possible. We may feel that we are transparent in our information, when was the last time you asked your team if they felt you were transparent and you felt that they were honest and transparent with you (whether you are a team leader or not) .
I remember working in a place some time ago – where everything was kept top secret. We never had any meetings and the staff was actually discouraged to talk to each other. The manager was distrusting of everyone and let the team members know this because he would talk about you to other team members and say that you could not be trusted. This behavior led the employees to act in deceitful ways – steal, lie on their time cards, come to work drunk, leave early, talk bad about the boss, and live in fear everyday of getting fired. I am glad I am no longer working there.
The point of this article is to inspire thought – we as teams and team members know what it is to be successful. We know how to love each other and be transparent – what is it in each of us that causes negative behaviors – I say it is negative environments with a downward spinning oscillation loop of negative reinforcement. I encourage teams to change direction to a positive oscillation of success – success is failure that we have learned from.

Michael Cardus is Create-Learning

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