I hear so many managers and leaders talk about this point. There is a desire to invest in development, however, in the Covid 19 era with budgets under pressure this sort of activity is often under the microscope and it is easy to see why. There is a key question for me. What are the expected outcomes? Too often there is a lack of focus on what a good outcome looks like and how it may be measured in terms of team and individual progress. There needs to be a clear purpose. What is the team there to deliver and what does the intervention need to achieve?
The most effective results occur when people can create a clear answer to the ‘so what?’ question!
Getting team members to understand their strengths and how they may develop them further, how those strengths contribute to team performance and where the gaps are both individually and collectively is key.
Assessment can form an integral part of these development sessions as they can identify the culture of the team. Using an effective assessment tool such as the Hogan team report, for example, will identify the team culture based on the individual team members results and indicating what it is going to be like to work in that environment, how well the team may bond and the influences on their decision making. This is particularly important when there are adjustments to the strategy and organisational goals requiring an adjustment in focus and behaviour. Because values operate subconsciously, awareness can be limited. The degree to which values align can impact productivity.
Creating clarity about the team’s behaviours, particularly under pressure and what can happen will help. Who goes quiet, who comes up with eccentric ideas, who remains steady and who becomes overconfident and overestimates the team capability and ability to deliver? These are often overplayed strengths, however, if not addressed, they will impede the teams' progress and success.
As you can see, this is not about typical ‘team-building’, rather, a focused approach to understanding values, behaviours and what the team's derailers may be as well as their implications. By starting with the team’s purpose, it can generate focus on what needs to be achieved. A strong, clear purpose can then be overlaid with identifying gaps, discussing solutions and moving forward collectively. Actions to deliver! When thinking about team sessions, think about the challenges the team face. Difficult objectives, demanding stakeholders, short timescales, customer issues or new projects to implement.
What can emerge? Too many things to mention but two quick examples.
A team that needed to step up and lead more effectively. We chose the Hogan Team report in this case and it allowed the group to see that they were relationship-focused. Something they already sensed. The net result? Don’t damage the relationships, but in reality, they were saying yes to the demands of all the stakeholders and not challenging each other in the right ways. Due to their collective diligence, they were working hard and becoming overwhelmed. The outcome, among other things, was granting ‘permission’ to each other to challenge more and working on sharpening their feedback skills so they could do so more promptly and effectively. With stakeholders, they identified the need for better questioning skills and the benefit of supporting each other in saying no when required. This increased the trust the team members had in each other.
A second example was a senior leadership group that wanted to see how they compared to other senior teams. We typically use the High Performing Team Assessment in cases like this. It allowed the team to benchmark and compare. They quickly identified several strengths and focus areas that formed the backbone of the session, driving more challenging conversations and allowing them to align on what was most important and how they were going to tackle the situation.
Done with the right investment in time and resources can ensure that bringing teams together to develop can provide great results and certainly be time…and money well spent.
Case Study - The case of the team that went nowhere.
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