“It’s been another great month,” Tom reported to his managers. “Sales hit their numbers plus 3% … way to go Luke.”
“Thanks, Tom. I’m excited we exceeded October’s budget,” Luke beamed. “The guys really worked hard … and that means we qualify for our quarterly bonus!”
“Yes, way to go, we all know sales’ worked really hard,” Mary muttered to herself. Silently her thoughts yelled, “Must be nice. And what about my team? Production completed our work on time, on budget, and with better customer satisfaction scores?”
Glancing across the table at Mary, Raquel said, “That’s great news, Luke.” Then, frustration drove her internal dialog, “Hip, hip, hooray. Way to go Team Luke! Tom still hasn’t said one word about accounting; we’re getting it done. What about my team? We work hard, too but who notices or cares?”
The more blunt, Caroline jumped in, “For the record, we started our new marketing campaign in January. What a coincidence, leads have increased every month. Seriously, my team worked hard re-branding the company and getting our message out. The way I see it, we paved the way for sales….”
The celebration flattened, Tom moved to the next agenda item.
A shift in focus
Self-managed teams apply the superglue of team performance to win, as a team. Today, we explore the fifth behavior of cohesive teams: focusing on results.
It’s clear great teams work to build trust. Vulnerability-based trust liberates the team to engage in healthy debate, exploring all ideas and opinions. Each voice is heard and differences explored. Clarity about the decision encourages buy-in as individual commitment to the decision is expected. Responsibility for individual contribution protects the team from resentment due to a lack of execution or unproductive behavior. With this powerful discipline of accountability in place, a team victory is within reach.
But, what if the team does not focus on results? When a team fails to unite around collective goals it will likely be distracted by…
- Emphasis on individual goals
- Lack of shared rewards
- Personal career progress
- Inadequate process or structure
Teams that fail to shift the focus to team-based results may:
- Get stuck and fail to grow
- Lose to the competition
- Drive away achievement-oriented team members
- Dilute the team’s ability to win
Team success is hindered when self-interest blurs the focus on collective results.
Achieving results, together
A self-managed team accomplishes what it sets out to do. With such a focus, a team will…
- Minimize individualistic behavior
- Hang on to top talent
- Accomplish more
- Win together
You can expect to see team members who…
- Value team success more than individual wins
- Make sacrifices for the good of the team
- Take personal responsibility to improve performance
- Celebrate the contribution of others
What if your team enjoyed the fruit of such a focus? How would that change your team’s performance?
Adjusting the focus
Tom recognized how his narrow focus endangered his company’s success. He opened the next team meeting, “Last week, you may re-call the “high five” I gave Luke and the sales team. It was a significant achievement, given market conditions. However, the reality is this: we win together. Otherwise, we’ll limit our potential.”
“In July we committed to explore and embrace the behaviors of a self-managed team. Recognizing we could do better, we started this journey to build trust, to communicate openly, to commit to our decisions, to accept personal responsibility for our work, and to be accountable to each other. Good news, we have made progress. Thanks.”
“Here’s what I’ve been thinking about … my focus on sales. If the numbers are good, business is great. If low … well, everyone knows … my mood changes.”
Taking a deep breath, Tom continued, “I’m starting to understand how all of this work to be a cohesive team leads to our focus … on achieving collective results, not individual success.” He pointed quote marks in the air for emphasis. “In fact, most of the conflict around here seems to be a result of this unhealthy competition between departments … between you.”
The tension began to ease, as Tom continued, “So going forward we’re going to focus on team goals. I’ll need your help. It means I’ll need to move beyond financial measures to setting expectations around performance and behavior. New territory for all of us.”
It was hard to pinpoint the significance of the moment: was it Tom’s vulnerability or the exposed elephant? Probably both and just what the team needed to move forward.
What will your team do?
Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of ABC Television says, “The number one key to success, here at Disney and really in every business, is the team.”
These past few weeks we have explored the superglue of top performing teams. Winning teams build trust. They learn to engage in effective communication, they commit to decisions, and each team member embraces personal responsibility for his/her work. While working on “soft skills” is required, the goal of self-managed teams is to focus on results.
Developing a high performance team is work. You must create space for leadership development.
So, what do you think about the five behaviors of self-managed teams?
How strong is your team’s foundation … building trust?
What support do you need? Who is your team leader? How will you get started? Why? When? Where?
It will take diligence and you must be intention. It’s not hard; it’s just not easy. But the rewards … priceless!
Here’s to your next level,
PS: The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ is a result of the partnership between Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions and best-selling author Patrick Lencioni. The assessment is based on his best-selling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and powered by Everything DiSC Workplace. Next Level Executive Coaching, LLC is an independent Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Authorized Partner.
Click to review a Five Behaviors Sample Report.
Photo credit: Wellington College