There is advice everywhere on how to deal with the economic slowdown and in most instances it seems to boil down to:
- Sell/market your products and services more aggressively.
- Streamline the business, cut costs and control finances especially cash flow
- Focus on a clear vision.
- Retain top management.
Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with all of these, there is something missing in most articles written about beating the recession and in much of the thinking done in many of the boardrooms across the UK.
The most powerful weapon that all businesses have and is FREE to use at no extra cost, are your PEOPLE and the TEAMS they work in.
So often companies pay lip service to the concept that their people are their most valuable asset and yet fail to use them effectively. This is not because they don’t want to, it’s more often the case that they don’t know how to. They lack a structure or a process that helps their teams work better together and enable them to best address the actions necessary to achieve success despite the economic difficulties. If you want to achieve success we urge you to start with your people and by focusing on team development. By tapping into this resource you will create more coherent, more powerful, more sustainable action plans than you will do by yourself.
Patrick Lencioni said “If you can get all the people in an organisation rowing in the same direction, working as a team you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time” If you accept that better team working can be the catalyst to business improvement, the next problem is how to achieve this desired position. Most companies and managers instantly recognise the inherent power of teams yet despite this acknowledgement effective team work is elusive in most companies.
To overcome this problem it is important to master a set of behaviours that are uncomplicated but often difficult to implement. You will need to focus on clearly defined processes that work on the 5 key functions (or dysfunctions as they are often refered to) necessary for achieving truly effective teamwork.
These five (dys)functions are based on the work of Patrick Lencioni and are highly effective in creating truely effective teams. The five issues to overcome are:
Absence of Trust
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another, and are thus unwilling to admit their mistakes, acknowledge their weaknesses or ask for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.
Fear of Conflict
Trust is critical because without it, teams are unlikely to engage in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues. This creates two problems. First, stifling conflict actually increases the likelihood of destructive, back channel sniping. Second, it leads to sub-optimal decision-making.
Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is extremely difficult for team members to truly commit to decisions because they don’t feel that they are part of the decision. This often creates an environment of ambiguity and confusion in an organisation, leading to frustration among employees, especially top performers.
Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, peer-to-peer accountability suffers greatly. Even the most focused and driven individuals will hesitate to challenge their peers on counterproductive actions and behaviours if they believe those actions and behaviours were never agreed upon in the first place.
Inattention to Results
When team members are not holding one another accountable, they increase the likelihood that individual ego and recognition will become more important than collective team results. When this occurs, the business suffers and the team starts to unravel.
Striving to create a functional, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organisation looking for a powerful point of differentiation.
Functional teams get more accomplished in less time than other teams because they avoid wasting time on the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics again and again. They also make higher quality decisions and stick to those decisions by eliminating politics and confusion among themselves and the people they lead.
About the Author:
Leigh Dorling is passionate about helping businesses succeed and he created http://www.CreateYourMessage.com as a fun way to produce motivational posters for his clients and to aid them create powerful reminders of values, vision, beliefs and goals. He also runs Cognisi.co.uk and helps business leaders achieve their goals more quickly than they will do themselves.