How do you build effective, efficient and motivated teams and virtual teams?
We love teambuilding – not in the sense where you all go outside and swing from ropes (though that does sound like fun), but in the sense of creating a great working team environment every day. One where people can challenge the status quo, suggest new ideas and feel confident in doing that. One where the team are all working together to achieve the same results (even if they are not all in the same room) and not competing against one another.
When we help our clients on the team development journey, we often use a simple effective model from Patrick Lencioni outlined in the book The Advantage to guide them through the five stages. This works equally well with virtual teams and you could argue is even more essential.
Lencioni presents a simple pyramid giving the 5 stages for a team to aspire to. It sounds simple (which I like), and yet each stage can take months or years to master depending on how committed the team is to achieve the ultimate rewards!
The first level of the pyramid is building trust amongst the team. Not the kind of trust you might initially think of, but real trust to be vulnerable in front of others and admit weaknesses or mistakes. When doing this virtually, you need to create time and space for this to happen, if you are always rushing from one call to the next it will take a very brave person to hold everyone up to discuss an error or issue! We suggest being clear on expectation with regards to behaviours very early on as you establish your virtual ways of working and encouraging the frequent use of a feedback sandwich – making feedback part of everyday life not an annual occurrence at PDR time!
In this Stage Lencioni suggests using personality profiling tools (like Insights Discovery and Motivational Maps) to help make this phase easier, faster and more transparent. We use this a lot with our clients, and it provides a great initial step to begin the team development journey and build cohesion. We design bespoke programmes to work with Executive teams or begin the journey with our “Impactful Teams” programme.
“Simply Amazing Training has worked with the Exec team individually to assess our personalities and development requirements and then facilitated us on developing a cohesive management team. The progress we have made would not have been achieved without her insights and expertise. We continue to use Dee and her Company for individual development of key personnel and for my management team including our General Manager in Sri Lanka who is responsible for 500+ people.” Jason Abbott, President AmsSafe Bridport.
The next phase is encouraging constructive conflict. When people trust each other, they can then work on feeling confident in raising issues, disagreements and unpopular points of view. Encouraging constructive conflict will ensure that a team or organization does not experience the negative consequences of Group Think (The cause of the Challenger space shuttle disaster). In my experience teams that “get on really well” might be teams that shy away from conflict for fear of upsetting one another. This means the decisions made aren’t necessarily using all the personality style strengths of the team – just the dominant or senior ones. Again using the Feedback Sandwich shows people that it is possible to give constructive feedback on meetings, behaviours and performance without upsetting everyone!
Next up is commitment from the team. This phase is about getting really clear on what is expected or what the actions are and then the whole team buying into the decision made. In a virtual environment it is even more important to be clear on what the decision is and actions are. The ‘minutes’ or flip chart must be shared for everyone to see and commit to. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily agree with the decision – but if you have had a chance to air your views and they have been listened to then ultimately you will feel more able to commit to the group decision even if it conflicts with your preferred decision. When commitment is missing it is the people on the ground that experience a difference of priorities and standards and thus confusion and inaction.
Accountability is the penultimate stage in the pyramid – because you have got real buy in to the action if the deadline is missed or the action not completed to satisfaction, the whole team can feel confident in holding people accountable. In organisations where this does not happen agenda items and actions move from one meeting to the next with very little consequence. This typically looks like the beginning of a virtual project meeting where you review the last meetings minutes and if things are not done, you spend time getting to the root cause of the issue (either in that meeting or offline depending on what is most appropriate).
At the top of the pyramid is results the driver of productivity. Because of doing all the other levels the results will shine through. The results refer to the outcome for the whole business and ensuring that everyone is measured against the same results. This means there are no competing objectives to fuel silo working. If the results aren’t forthcoming, then the whole team owns them and works towards improving and achieving them.
Our clients who work through these levels say that being part of a virtual or remote team that follow these principles feels great. It’s not an easy journey but the efforts are well rewarded.
An example of some of the programmes we’ve run are shown below to give you a flavour of how we could work with you too…