If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life. – Abraham H. Maslow
By Gina Gardiner
Any organisation is a strong as the team of people they put together. Each person brings with them a unique set of skills, knowledge, intelligences, attitude and …baggage. Bring a team together and the resource grows potentially to provide not just the individual set, but the huge benefits that interaction between people can create.
Organisations where people pool their knowledge, skills, imagination, ideas and experience have so much more resource to draw upon. If you unpick the elements that make any organisation successful one of the core reasons is the quality of the people within it and the way in which they inter-relate. .
Successful organisations offer regular opportunities for brainstorming, collective solution finding (rather than the usual problem solving), and explore the possibilities for unleashing creative interaction within the organisation and with the outside world. They encourage a professional curiosity and demand professional responsibility. For this to work well they must create a culture where development is celebrated as part of the journey rather than blame and failure being apportioned when things don’t work the first time.
So how can you create our “Dream Team?”
There is no magic solution, however creating the best team for your organisation is achievable with some thought and care and an open mind. Follow the 10 steps to achieve your “dream team.”
BUILDING YOUR DREAM TEAM
Step 1 Define your dream
Each organisation will need something rather different. You would not hire rugby players to play basketball for example. Remember one person’s dream is another’s nightmare. Be careful what you wish for as first thoughts are not always the most appropriate – think of Midas.
Take the time to consider:
What does your organisation need?
How do you know?
Step 2 Create The Vision
Think of a lighthouse providing a beacon of light to keep a ship on course and safe from harm whatever the weather and state of the sea. Your vision should sustain your organisation in good times and when things get rocky or through changes of personnel. All those involved with your organisation internally and externally should know what your vision is where you are ultimately aiming for and why.
What do you want your organisation to look like in 2 or 5 or 10 years time?
What are the core values you want to live by?
What are your ultimate goals? – personal and corporate
How are you going to create that vision – by yourself or with others?
What elements are negotiable and which are set in stone?
Identify the people you need to involve to make your vision a reality.
Step 3 Create The Culture
It is important to create the right culture for your organisation, ensure that it matches your core values. Consider the reward system you have, does it encourage collaboration?
Collaboration between your team rather than cut-throat competition can provide long-term benefits for your organisation and your customers.
Successful organisations are built on a culture of development rather than blame. Where honest, constructive feedback is given regularly, leading to growth and change. People are encouraged to evaluate their own performance and that of their team, where they strive for excellence and have high expectations of themselves and others.
You must show by example and be consistent in approach.
Articulate your vision, purpose, core values to all involved – regularly, it should be an integral part of your organisations daily living rather than a dog eared poster somewhere in the reception area or on your notice board.
Step 4 Consider your existing situation:
Where are you now?
What is your decision making process?
People – what are their current roles and responsibilities?
What are your lines of communication? – through the organisation both formal and informal and with your customers and other stakeholders.
Current performance – how do you know how well things are going and people are doing? Don’t forget to consider your own performance.
Be honest with yourself and encourage others to be professionally honest. Ask others from both within the organisation and outside.
Step 5 YOUR VISION vs. CURRENT SITUATION
Compare things as they are with how they would be if your dream was a reality. As yourself the following questions:
What needs to be put into place to achieve your goals?
How can you achieve those things?
Start with: What is going well?
How do you know?
Identify your strengths – celebrate, and protect them, share the best practice within your organisation and within your industry.
What are the areas which need to be changed / developed?
Remember if you always do what you have always done – nothing will change. It is possible to become very successful at failing
Step 6 Create Your Road Map
Consider your existing staff
Identify their current roles and responsibilities.
Think about their potential for professional growth and their training, coaching and mentoring needs to achieve that potential.
Create a ‘perfect team’ plan on paper
Consider the roles and responsibilities needed within your ‘Dream Team’ to deliver your goals
Map your existing staff onto your Perfect Dream Team Plan
Match skill set/ experience / future potential of existing staff
Identify what is needed in the short, medium and long term
Step 7 Appoint Future Staff
Be clear about what you need to bring your dream closer and the role each person is to play within your organisation both as an individual and as a team player.
Consider the type of people you want and think about how they will live your dream. Ask yourself the questions:
“Will they complement m ‘Dream Team’? – What impact will they have on existing staff?
What needs to be done to ensure maximum benefit from the team?
When you appoint new staff have:
Clear expectations and boundaries right from the outset.
A detailed person specification which includes the skills needed to interact positively with the rest of your team and with all stakeholders.
Make sure your advert reflects your needs and expectations.
Create an interview process which will ensure you have the opportunity to see the candidate in different situations e.g. watch the candidate relate to others.
Step 8 Induction and Training
All staff need on – going training to ensure that they continue to develop their professional curiosity. Maintaining your “Dream Team” is a continuous process, it requires nurturing and supporting. This can be supported very successfully through the training and development of:
Individual – new and existing staff
Use of mentors
Preparation for delegation / promotion
If you are introducing a different culture or approach induct all staff as if they were new to the organisation. Better still involve them in the creative process. It engages people and gives them a real sense of ownership and motivation if done well.
Step 9 Making Time For Team Building
A team will become a cohesive unit if it is given the opportunity to form a positive professional relationship. Would you simply put a collection of individuals together and by simply calling them a football team or a choir expect winning results or a balanced harmony? In both contexts they need time to understand each other, their ways of thinking, working and learning. To maximise their potential they need time and structured opportunities to recognise their collective strengths and accommodate their weaknesses. In exactly the same way as groups of singers learn to listen to one another, to harmonise and to adjust volume, pitch and tone by rehearsing on a regular basis or footballers learn which foot their team members favour and who is best equipped to take each position on the field, your team must learn to interact successfully with each other.
There are lots of ways of providing the opportunity for team building:
Tandem Time: ongoing – integral to the daily activities
Specific team building activities:
Training / Social
I have always been incredibly impressed where the responsibility has been given in part to the team itself to create and run activities to enhance the team building opportunities. Offering a budget or in-house time even a relatively small one can pay real dividends.
Step 10 Creating And Maintaining Effective Communication
The continued development and success of your “Dream Team” is dependent on the ongoing articulation of your organisational vision, core purpose and goals. The importance of a shared understanding is of paramount importance.
To achieve this be aware of the importance of listening and being open to the feedback given verbally and in other ways by your team. Consider both the formal and informal communication within the organisation – across and through and with stakeholders.
Offer opportunities for everyone to have their say, and to feel that their views have been listened to and acknowledged. That does not mean that everyone has to get their own way, rather that they need to understand their position in relation to the shared vision and the needs of the organisation. The best teams value all contributions. It is often a chance remark which will trigger someone’s imagination leading to a creative solution.
The Benefits Of A Successful “Dream Team”
The benefits of having a highly effective team who work well together in the best interests of the organisation are far reaching. The cross fertilisation of ideas, the support mechanism which allows both the individual and the group to grow in confidence and competence are well documented. Having a pool of talented people who are capable of taking responsibility can be an enormous boon to the boss. One of the huge benefits if having a wonderful “Dream Team” is the opportunity to delegate. (See the article on Effective Delegation”)
Effective Delegation, Why delegate?
By delegating effectively it will leave the Senior Management of the organisation time to really lead into the future:
Leaders the time to plan strategically
The chance for a shared responsibility and work load
Truly distributed leadership
Progression/ succession development
What is delegation?
So often you hear busy bosses say “If you want anything done properly you have to do it yourself”, or “I’m overloaded” or “I haven’t got time to do what needs to be done let alone time to think!”. “I have no work life balance – no time to myself”
As a boss you have to make conscious decisions are you prepared to spend all your time fire fighting or do you want time to think strategically? Do you want to create a dependency model or a delegation framework.
Which one do you want?
Why does it fail so often?
Effective delegation will only happen if there are a number of elements in place. It requires thorough preparation before hand. You would not expect or indeed want a surgeon to operate unless they were well trained and knew what they were doing, had all the necessary equipment in a suitable, sterile environment.
Delegation requires the person who delegates to prepare the way, an investment of thought and time in the first instance will pay huge dividends in the medium and long term.
Preparing for delegation:
Set out clear parameters of each delegation: desired outcome, time scale, budget,
Be clear about roles & responsibilities – of them and others.
Accountability – what will they be accountable for? And to whom?
Parameters of authority for decision making – this is the area where delegation often crumbles. Consider the consequences if the person doing the job constantly has to pass things up the chain of command for even the simplest decision. Conversely if the person has no terms of reference and is left entirely on their own it can be overwhelming or they can easily take decisions that are well beyond those you expect.
Act as a resource to your team, offer to be at their disposal as a resource rather than being seen as the decision maker. Advice can be self- limiting, far better to ask the right question to further their thinking. It is now that having a culture of development really adds value to the process. Questions are then seen as supportive to the learning process rather as a way to limit and control.
Firstly and finally if you want to maintain a “Dream Team” which is constantly striving to improve and develop, you need to consider your own role in creating and managing the team.
No room for ego.
The best leaders do not need to be the best at everything. They have the confidence to employ the most gifted and talented people they can find. They have the skill to identify good people and to help them grow. Moreover they create a team where one person’s success builds the success of the team. Model the behaviours and attitudes you want to encourage.
Give credit where it is due
Be generous in your praise where it is deserved. Acknowledge others ideas and contributions and take time to thank people for their contribution. Often a heartfelt thank you is worth a fortune, however thanks must be heart felt and genuine, paying lip service will very quickly backfire.
We all respond well to positive reinforcement. If people know what success looks and feels like, they are much more likely to reproduce the conditions which make it happen. Think of successful dog trainers. They only reward good behaviour, but look for small increments – if these are rewarded behaviours are quickly changed for the better.
A celebration can take many forms, involve your team in determining how they would like their success to be recognised. Going through the motions will be quickly exposed for being false.
Rewards in line with core values
Think about your organisation’s core values with your team, consider the needs of your organisation and those of your team. The ideal is to create a win- win situation where the individual has a vested interest in the organisation and their colleague’s success.
Gina Gardiner has led a wide range of team building, training and facilitation activities with individuals, and organizations including Microsoft, CAPITA, The National College of School Leadership, DFES, schools and The Cabinet Office. She works as Independent Consultant and as an Executive and Life Coach and leadership mentor. She is a Neuro Linguistic Master Practitioner and a qualified coach www.graduatesolutions.co.uk