12th August 2015
It would be too obvious to state that success is built on harmonious team work, with 91% of respondents agreeing to this in a recent survey and research report from the Centre for Creative Leadership. But what makes these teams succeed? The answer, according to research conducted by Lencioni (2002) is trust. (1) As a result, the real question is what happens when a team lacks a sense of trust? The consequent effects can be catastrophic for business since team members will be less likely to ask for assistance, take constructive criticism or wish to go beyond minimal expectations. Furthermore, from a top-down perspective, productivity will be reduced and unnecessary time spent on aiding conflict, with managers spending 18%-26% of their time dealing with such issues. (2) In today’s society, however, the necessity of teams is consistently overlooked by business leaders and this needs to change.
So how do we create these high performing teams (commonly referred to as HPT)? Rialto, specialists in business and leadership transformation, believe it to be a group of individuals who are committed, focused, coordinated and adaptable to diverse talents and skills. Often, such teams are relatively small, typically between 5 and 9 people consistently working together, which runs alongside Belbin’s team model and ensures the correct mix of essential skills and characteristics. (3) Mutual accountability is also a must within HPT, requiring trust, transparency and candour as well as a passion for a well-defined and unifying goal. Therefore, it is clear to see that such strong teams are unlikely to be formed without careful thought and analysis.
Enter, team building initiatives. This concept is largely misunderstood today in the world of business with many employees viewing it as a day out of the office to have fun playing golf or working out the best way to pass your colleagues through a spider’s web without touching the sides. Although of course this is the aim, there is always the underlying motivation of lasting change for an underperforming team as opposed to sporadic one time responses in a bid to ‘fix’ in the short term and so can in fact be undertaken in the office during the day to day. (4)
Therefore, we must discover ways of empirically testing personality traits in order to create and manage HPT and in turn, aid team building. The introduction of personality tests into team building programmes is advantageous since individuals within the team can understand their own preferences and work styles in amongst the broader style of the team as a whole. Examples of personality testing include Belbin’s ‘Team Role’ Model, the DISC Model and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Each of these processes assess the behavioural characteristics of individuals within a workplace setting and more specifically, how they behave in a team situation. Therefore, individuals’ inherent strengths and weaknesses are identified as well as natural roles adjusted and as a consequence, they are likely to become more motivated since they are aware of their place and worth within the team and are compatible with the characteristics of others. As a result trust is formed, ultimately creating open lines of communication in order to organise individuals in accordance to their differing strengths and understand the mix of profiles within a team. (5)
The most successful companies tend to be composed of a variety of personalities, such as Google. Voted the No. 1 company to work for in 2011, they really seem to care about their employee’s wellbeing, as reflected in the weekly TGIF get-together in which new employees are able to break the ice with their colleagues and most importantly, openness and honesty are encouraged with Q & A sessions with the most senior of leaders, broadcast worldwide. (6) This is just one example of how team building initiatives can be implemented into business in order to create the most important factor needed for HTP, trust (but Google’s free breakfasts, lunches and dinners would be enough to win us over!).
Therefore, we must be clear on the fact that despite the successful creation of HTP, often by external coaches, it is unlikely they will prosper and evolve in the long term without strong leadership. Such team leaders are not necessarily the most senior individuals in a team (7), but those able to consistently motivate and successfully get the job done, as shown below from a study conducted by Harvard Business School focusing on the significance of both task and relationship success. (8)
As a result it is clear to see that it would be highly beneficial for organisations to allocate time, resources and thought into these types of team building exercises which fully embrace all personality types. It is commonly known that it takes all sorts to make the world go round and this situation is no different, so why not rise through the ranks and join Google at the top by embracing your employees’ differences and nurturing their strengths to top your competition.