The word “team” is one of the most used in business language. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we enjoy watching and admiring the game of the best teams in football, hockey, volleyball, and other team sports. Why does a business need to create teams?
Different articles, books and interviews mention different combinations with the word “team”.
- Breakout Team
- Growth Team
- Change Team
- Product team
- We are a team
Considering that everything starts “from the head”, the article will place more emphasis on organizing the joint work of top teams.
Teams in business are talked about much more often than they actually exist within companies.
From my experience. In meetings with company leaders when discussing projects for strategy development or other tasks, I often hear from them the words “our team” and “we are a team”
However, when teamwork begins, it turns out that there is no team as such. There is a group of people who are united by some criteria, such as working in the same organization or within the same department.
Based on the survey, the Adizes Institute identified several management problems. Two of them are directly related to building business teams.
A. The company does not have clear strategic goals.
B. Constant conflicts in the top management team.
Unfortunately, this is the reality of most Russian companies.
What distinguishes a top team from a group in business?
One significant difference is the number of participants. The group can be quite large, tens or hundreds of people. There is a limit for the team.
According to various sources, the maximum number is from 10 to 15 people. Groups are easier to create. You can recruit a new unit, put them in the same room and assume that the group has already been formed. These people have a criterion that distinguishes them from other employees of the company.
Before talking about the differences between a group and a team, I offer a definition of a team that I always work with.
A team is a small group of people with complementary skills committed to goals and a strategy to achieve them. Team members share core values and are collectively accountable for the results of their work.John Katzenbach, Douglas SmithTeam approach. Building a high performing organization.
Main characteristics of a top team
- Responsibility for achieving the goals of the team lies with both the leader and each member of the team.
- Each team member perceives their goals/tasks as a personal contribution to the achievement of the team’s goals.
- Responsibility for the performance of their tasks by team members exists both before the leader and other team members.
- Each team member can discuss the quality of the assigned task with another member, and not just the leader
- Values and norms of behavior in a team are determined jointly by team members
- In difficult situations, participants can find solutions both independently and with the involvement of a leader.
- The incentive system takes into account both personal achievements and team results
The main characteristics of the group
- Responsibility for achieving the goals rests with the team leader
- Each member of the group performs a specific task assigned by the leader.
- The responsibility of the group member exists only to the leader
- Norms and rules of conduct are set by the head independently
- The control of the work of each participant is carried out by the leader of the group alone.
- Uniting Force – Team Leader
- Interaction between group members in difficult situations is carried out through the leader
- Each member of the group knows only his task. Group goals are rarely interesting.
- The incentive system is primarily focused on the personal results of the group member
What problems prevent you from creating top teams?
What can explain the discrepancy between the frequency of use of the word “team” in the speeches of leaders and the actual state of affairs with the existence of top teams?
In my opinion, this is due to many reasons, including:
- Misunderstanding of the fundamental differences between a group and a team
- The expectation that it is enough to gather several employees together to solve the problem and the team will form by itself
- Unwillingness to invest in team building
Building high-performing teams requires serious effort on the part of the leader. The main problem is the lack of clear criteria on the basis of which one can become a member of the team.
The group exists. What prevents group members from turning into a team?
Additional reasons that make it difficult to turn a group into a team:
- Indifference to results
- fear of conflict
- distrust of each other
The Five Vices of a Team by
What needs to be done to form a top team?
Let’s take sports teams as an example.
To form a football team, for example, do:
- Select future team members according to certain criteria
- Conduct training
- They conduct classes in tactics, physical training, game technology, etc.
- For each game, depending on the goals and the opponent, the strategy of the game is determined.
What can be taken from their experience to prepare top teams:
- Use business training to develop the necessary skills and apply business tools in real company situations
- Conduct strategic sessions to define goals and strategies for their implementation, the values of the organization and other topics
- Discuss in strategic sessions various management tasks related to the organization as a whole and develop agreed solutions
A common situation (from experience with different managers)
In addition to the reasons that prevent the creation of top teams and outlined above, I want to note one more point.
To create a top team you need:
- The desire of the first person of the company / Force
I deliberately put money in last place, because even if there is money, there is often not enough time. All the time takes the “turnover”.
From time to time I hear the phrase: “Let’s do it quickly”
In my experience, time is no less important factor for team building than money.
To form a top team, constant joint work is needed to discuss key issues of business development and develop appropriate management decisions.
The basis for the formation of a top team is joint mental activity. I like the phrase of one of the characters in the series “Saboteurs”
“Thought ahead of action”
The coordination of thoughts leads to the coordination of actions.
Coordinated actions lead to a coherent image of the organization.
A holistic image determines the conscious positioning of the company and long-term competitive advantages.
Conscious positioning and competitive advantages are the key factors ensuring sustainable growth of key financial indicators.
In general, everything is like in the poem “The House That Jack Built” (S. Marshak)
Strategic sessions, as a format of teamwork, always take time.
It is necessary that everyone could express their point of view, discuss possible solutions, criteria for choosing solutions and choose solutions.
This creates the basis for making agreed decisions and committing to the chosen decisions.
What gives the use of the format of strategic sessions:
- Opportunity to hear each other’s opinions on topics discussed
- Creates motivation to translate decisions into concrete actions
- Increases the speed of managerial decision-making instead of lengthy discussions on the topic “who is to blame”
- Focuses on the most effective decisions leading to the achievement of goals, instead of looking for evidence of his case
- Forms the responsibility of each top manager for his contribution to the achievement of common goals instead of the position “I solved my problem” and then it’s none of my business
Why is it necessary to be engaged in the formation of top teams in business?
If the creation of top teams requires serious efforts and investments, then maybe it is worth limiting yourself to working in groups?
The amazing thing is that almost all the leaders answered that they need a top team! However, in most cases, after the start of work, it became obvious that in fact the group, as a model of collective work, suited them quite well.
For different reasons. For instance.
- The owner needs to change his behavior, and this is always difficult.
- Creation of a team requires a high involvement of the head of the company in this process, and he is “stuck by the turnover”
- The link between teamwork and company results is not always obvious. And you want results right away.
- They believe that they have recruited the best managers on the market and they themselves will agree among themselves
I still keep the statement of one owner regarding the game of the Russian national football team, which lost another important match. It was written very emotionally because he saw the parallels between the football team and the behavior of top managers in his company.
“Do you know why our football team played so ingloriously? They (our football stars) don’t know the anthem and don’t sing it, they don’t care about the flag, they don’t have traditions, they don’t care about each other, they only meet on the court, they don’t care about their country (or rather, it’s not theirs, they they hardly associate themselves with it) and (!!!) they play exclusively for money – they are not ashamed of any result, but they will earn money sooner or later in some other place / club, they know this for sure.
So, this is our company today. And no stars, and their teams that are successful in other companies, will not make us winners happy, rich and healthy. We will always live with caution and plug the gaps that arise everywhere, and we will certainly not be able to scale if we do not systematically solve exactly the same tasks that were not solved in our football team with this overfed alien coach.
We need unifying long-term goals , a culture and like-minded professionals…”
Business teams are a business resource that works on the principle of 1 + 1 = 3.
If you want to make a breakthrough, successfully enter new markets, scale your business, you cannot do this without teamwork.
The creation of business teams in a company starts from the top level of management, that is, where the cost of managerial decisions is the highest, and the cost of a mistake is the most serious.
This article is originally written by Alexander Timoshin, Team partner, Source