Workplace Teams. It’s hardly the Game of Thrones.
By Jon Patton
“No time for that team-building stuff, we’ve got things to do and not enough hours in the day.”
Who could blame any leader for responding this way. You’re under pressure to produce results, complete projects and budgets are tight. It has not been lost on you, however, that your workplace culture has nagging inefficiencies:
- There is a steady stream of little skirmishes between your direct reports.
- People are stingy with credit and generous with blame.
- People agree in public and disagree in private.
- Fiefdoms seem to be optimizing for their own success, leaving you to arbitrate in the interests of the organization.
It’s hardly a Game of Thrones level of toxicity but, wow, things could be better. If you think “we almost get results despite of ourselves,” you also know there must be a more satisfying and effective way of achieving them.
“Teambuilding - a lot of effort and what do you get in return? Brushfires.”
Still, investing in teambuilding to address these issues gives you pause. You recall your past experiences with it. Maybe it was the outdoor activity (ropes courses or bowling) or the time you spent a day understanding each other’s personality type. The problem? It felt good at the time but it didn’t last. It had no direct application to improving results and the benefits did not get anywhere near to offsetting the backlog of emails and all the fires that started in your absence.
“There must be a way to build good old honest teamwork and collaboration.”
What if there was a way to spend a couple of productive offsite days with the team and come away having worked through real issues, and sustainably built trust and teamwork along the way? Could you truly forge some practical and pragmatic takeaways that advance the business and lead to sustainable changes amongst the team and downstream in the organization?
There is a way and it works.
Here is the process that Stop At Nothing has honed over 27 years plus working with thousands of teams and companies.
Gain insight before the in-person event with the leadership team.
- What this is: Before an in-person event with the team we gather information through interviews or surveys with your organization. The result is amazing: An honest self-assessment that reveals the strengths and opportunities of your organization.
- How come? We know the questions to ask, we have expert consultants dedicated to this task, it’s an anonymous process and, because we are not from your company, people respond with their honest opinions.
Build trust and gain commitment at the in-person event.
- What this is: An intensive two days of exercises and discussions built to create a new level of teamwork, understanding, action planning and the feeling that at last we are all on the same page. Everyone takes a breath and feels a little lighter about what it takes to be successful as an organization.
- How come? We combine a well-honed process and skilled facilitators who have walked in your corporate shoes. This is what they do for a living and it’s what they love to do.
- What this is: People leave with tangible next steps to which they are committed and a collaborative plan for helping each other make it happen.
- How come? There are pragmatic outcomes and deliverables that advance organizational effectiveness, and each team member’s individual effectiveness. We also give you a person that will continue to stay connected and provide advice both now and in the future, partnering with you on the continuing journey towards individuals, a team and an organization that is firing on all cylinders.
If this resonates, you might be asking yourself “how do I go about an exercise like this, either with in house resources or partners?” To apply our long experience to help your team, here are some important points to consider:
- You need a way to get honest feedback about what is working, and what isn’t.
- This must include a heavy dose of inter- and intrapersonal feedback. (e.g.; How people are working together now, and direct, individual feedback for each team member, senior leader included.)
- You need an objective and trusted person to facilitate your session who can create a safe environment. The team leader also has an important role in creating this environment and needs to be willing to hear and be open to things they can personally do differently.
- You need specific outcomes that address the key opportunities, normally actions that improve organizational effectiveness, a set of principles that govern how the team will work together going forward and specific plans for behavioral change for each team member.
- As always, you must follow through on your commitments and schedule regular check-ins against those commitments.
Here are the words of a leader that used this process:
“The Stop At Nothing process was instrumental in facilitating the speed of trust among my team to navigate a complex change agenda while still delivering results. I inherited a new team that was used to different culture, style and set of accountability measures than I brought to the table. As is often the case in large teams, there can be strained relationships and establishing trust, openness and collaboration can be very difficult. I knew that I needed to build these things and do it quickly otherwise it would jeopardize my chances of delivering against our financial commitments.
The process was pivotal in allowing the team to accelerate through the early stages of team dynamics and I can honestly say that after a 2 ½ day session with the team there was a dramatic shift in the way people interact, communicate and support each other. There were individuals who I have seen undergo major transformations since the session. It all still needs attention and check-ins just like any other priority but the progress has been sustained and had a material impact on improving our performance results. This was the best decision I made in the past 24 months.”
So, it’s a silver bullet-right?
No surprise here, the answer is: There are no silver bullets. HOWEVER...
The productivity, collaboration and engagement needles are significantly moved, things improve immediately, you start getting results because of yourselves, and people are having more fun. You also notice their new attitude and resultant outcomes are beginning to impact the entire organization and measures of employee engagement are pointing in the right direction. In fact, most of our clients find that with a little time and follow through their organization is beginning to get some serious kudos.
We wish you every success in your efforts as a leader to create a kingdom where people do their best work individually and come together to achieve amazing things collectively – quite unlike the Game of Thrones!