How to develop your team to deliver success

Team Holding Trophy | Axiom Communications

Five steps that will really enhance their skills and power performance

The positive impact that effective teams can have on delivering success is widely accepted and often cited around the world, almost to the point of becoming a cliché. We all understand that.

What is less well understood is precisely how to go about rising to a very specific and unique set of business challenges and enhancing the skills and attitudes of a particular group of people: Your challenges and your team.

Here I explore five practical steps that have a proven track record in powering the performance of real teams, consistently delivering against some very tough tests, in all sorts of trying circumstances and in all sorts of sectors, globally.

Understand your team members

Leaders often inherit existing teams and don’t always know what raw material they are working with (and what they aren’t). Equally, team members don’t always know one another, especially in virtual teams. Why not get to know one another better, both professionally and personally, via a facilitated process? You often uncover ‘hidden’ skills, experiences and connections that can help deliver success.

More formally, I recommend you properly invest in improving your team members’ awareness of themselves. This can be done through diagnostic tools such as DISC and Belbin.

Be clear about what you want to be famous for

Now you’re clear about who is on the team, you need to be clear about what you want them to deliver. This is not just about tasks, but also the ‘experience’ you want your stakeholders to enjoy when partnering with your team. We often use the world of global brands and what they are famous for, as a fun and powerful metaphor to explore what you want your team’s reputation to be.

Of course, like some famous brands, you may already have a reputation and it may not be the one you want. A dose of reality is invariably grounding at this stage.

Agree who you most need to positively influence

Often, when exploring this topic with teams, I find they’ve got some excellent business relationships, just with all the wrong people! You know what you want to be famous for, now you need to agree who you most want to be famous with. Then you can identify who is best-placed to build these key relationships. The next step is to equip colleagues with the networking and rapport building skills they need to succeed.

Developing both acuity and agility is critical here; the abilities to understand the needs of key stakeholders and then evolving your approach to deliver mutual gain.

Plan for success

Now it is time to turn your team’s aspirations into concrete actions. Map out who is actually going to do what and by when, in terms of deliverables. I recommend you create the biggest wall calendar that space will permit. Then use Post-it notes to plot when things need to be produced by and by whom. This technique helps you to visualise where you’ve got dependencies and indeed too much going on at one time.

To ‘kick the tyres’ of your plan ask yourself, is everyone playing to their strengths and will executing this plan make us famous for the right things with the right people?

Curate a culture of candour

Experience tells me that truly effective teams consistently exhibit high levels of constructive and candid feedback. I therefore strongly recommend that the team agrees a culturally acceptable way of calling one another out – when things go well and when they don’t. This ‘code of conduct’ needs to be regularly reviewed and become embedded in the way we do things around here.

Sporting teams are a rich source of inspiration in terms of codes of conduct, especially the all-conquering All Blacks Rugby Union team.

The business challenges you face are unique, but then so are as the characters and talents within your team. Through professional guidance your team can be developed to power performance and deliver success, your success.

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