We have all seen high-performing team. However, we really don’t know the main 7 secrets of a winning team. Don’t you want increased productivity, improved customer service, more flexible systems, and employee empowerment? Yes, of course. Can you do it alone? Of course not, you need a team to complete this mission.
We have seen secrets of a winning team totally dedicated to the purpose and work fits into organization’s objectives, and they agree that their team’s goals are achievable and aligned with company mission and values. This commitment provides them the foundation for synergy.
Members of the team are ready to put aside personal needs for the greater benefit of the work team and the company. All team members not only see the big picture but also team’s focus on the big picture provides a frame of reference against which all team decisions can be reviewed.
This doesn’t mean that winning teams don’t face any conflicts. However, when conflict arises, the team uses alignment with the big picture as the important criterion for acceptable solutions to assess work performance. Members must provide honest feedback, accept constructive criticism, and address issues head-on. To do so requires a high level of trust supported by direct and honest interaction.
“There’s only one standard. Once you’re stuck on the flypaper, you’re stuck. If you don’t set a high standard, you can’t expect your people to act right.” -Donald Kendall, Chairman, Pepsi-Co
Caring communication is one of the most important secrets out of 7 secrets of a winning team. Winning team constantly strive to achieve their full potential. The members of the team feel comfortable in saying what they think. They ask for help, share new or unpopular ideas, and risk making mistakes. These teams create an atmosphere where members show concern for and trust one another, and focus on solutions, not problems. We have noticed that these teams create an environment where communication is friendly, open, and positive.
Candid communication is more likely to flourish when individuals know and respect one another. Team members show care by asking about one another’s lives outside of work, respecting individual differences, joking, and generally making all feel welcome. Open communication is equally important to a team’s combined and result-oriented efforts.
When members communicate with each other positively, it impacts the energy of the work team. When members talk about what they like, need, or want, it is quite different from griping about what annoys or frustrates them. The former energizes; the latter demoralizes.
Sense of Connection
A winning team constantly finds creative ways to meaningfully connect with each other. When a team is connected to the organization, members discuss team performance in relationship to corporate priorities, customer feedback, and quality measures. They consider team’s needs in light of what’s good for the whole organization and what will best serve the joint objectives. We recommend companies to encourage such connection by keeping communication lines open. Management priorities, strategies and challenges should flow one way; team needs, victories, and questions in the other direction.
When a team develops strong connections among its own members, peer support manifests itself in many ways. Colleagues volunteer to help without being asked, cover for each other in a pinch, congratulate each other publicly, share resources, offer suggestions for improvement, and find ways to celebrate together.
For developing and maintaining such connections, we recommend that companies allow time before and after meetings for brief socialization, schedule team lunches, create occasional team projects outside of work, circulate member profiles, take training together, and provide feedback to one another on development.
Over the last many years, we have observed that teams that connect well with other work groups think of those groups as ‘internal customers’. It is observed that they not only treat requests from these colleagues with the same respect as shown to external customers, they also ask for feedback on how they can better serve them. They engage in win-win negotiation to resolve differences, and share resources.
Investing in the connections among team members both increases productivity and reduces risk. The National Transportation Safety Board found that 73 percent of incidents occurred on the first day a team worked together, and 44 percent on the first flight. By contrast, flight teams that stayed together for years performed better than all the rest.
In order to establish powerful connections, winning teams might consider: scheduling monthly cross-departmental meetings, inviting representatives to their own team meetings, and combining efforts on a corporate or community project.
Oneness in Roughness
Individual champions are less required in business today. Winning teams have members who help others achieve success for the team. Team success depends upon the degree of interdependence recognized within the team. In a winning team, members can count on each other. Members trust that when a colleague agrees to return a telephone call, read a report, talk to a customer, attend a meeting, or change a behavior; the job will be done. There will be follow- through. Team members are keenly aware that as part of a team, everything that they do – or don’t do – impacts someone else and eventually the whole team.
Not only do members rely on each other, but they also ensure they do things right the first time. In winning teams, accuracy is considered as a reflection of personal pride and demonstrates a commitment to uphold the standards of the team, thus generating team pride.
Team support brings forth new ideas and flourishes on innovation. Individuals feel supported by colleagues. Generally, in teams people hesitate to take the lead in any new initiative. However, not so in a winning team, because such risk is greatly reduced in a supportive environment where members respect individual differences, forgive mistakes, and shift their thinking from a point of view to a viewing point.
Turning team priorities into personal priorities is the hallmark of a respect the time of others by arriving for meetings on time, sharing information promptly, clustering questions for people, communicating concisely, and asking “Is this a good time?” before initiating interactions.
In a winning team, people understand that they can’t have their way all the time, and – to add value – they must develop a generous spirit. Being on a work team is a bit like being part of a family. Winning teams value the individual; develop team trust; communicate openly; manage differences; share successes; and welcome new members.
Thrive on Disagreements
The problem is not that differences exist, but in how they are managed. It is inevitable that teams of bright, diverse thinkers will experience conflict from time to time. If people believe that conflict never occurs in ‘good’ teams, they may sweep conflict under the carpet. Of course, no carpet is large enough to cover misconception, ill feelings, deep-rooted hurts, and misunderstandings for very long. Soon the differences reappear. They take on the form of tension, hidden agendas, and stubborn positions.
When teams manage conflict effectively, members feel empowered to maintain trust and tap the collective power of the team. Whether in business or sports; teams manage conflict better when members show a positivity towards conflict in general, parties involved, and their own ability to manage conflict.
Dr. Suzanne Willis Zoglio, Ph.D., shares three techniques to help members shift blocking paradigms through re-framing, shifting shoes, and affirmations.
Re-framing is looking at the glass as half-full instead of half-empty. Instead of thinking, “If I address this issue, it will slow down the meeting,” consider this thought: “If we negotiate this difference; trust and creativity will increase.”
‘walking in the shoes’ of another person. You answer questions such as:
“How would I feel if I were that person being criticized in front of the group?” “What would motivate me to say what that person just said?”
Affirmations are positive statements about something you want to be true. For example, instead of saying to yourself right before a negotiating session, “I know I’m going to blow up”, force yourself to say, “I am calm, comfortable, and prepared.” We teach team members to shift any negative mental tapes to more positive ones, and shift obstructing paradigms and manage conflict more effectively.
No Fear of Change
Winning teams not only respond to change, but actually initiate it. It is no longer a luxury to have teams that can perform effectively within a turbulent environment. It is a necessity. High performing teams acknowledge any perceived danger in the change and then help members appreciate opportunities hidden in the change.
A winning team doesn’t need security in comfort. It embraces unexpected challenges and changes with an open mind. The team knows how to take risks and manage through ambiguity. Team possesses the necessary tools to innovate. Leaders in winning teams also help reduce resistance to change by providing vision and information, and by modeling a positive attitude themselves.
A winning team has members who are skilled and ready to take initiatives. Members have strong technical and interpersonal skills and are willing to learn.
To enhance balanced participation in a team, we consider three factors that enhance the level of individual contribution: inclusion, of a team, the more they contribute; and the more members contribute, the more they feel like part of the team. To enhance feelings of inclusion, we ensure that you keep work team members informed, ask for their input, and support an atmosphere of cohesion.
Confidence in team increases the amount of energy a member invests in an endeavor. If it appears that the investment of hard work is likely to result in success, employees are more likely to contribute. If, on the other hand, success seems unlikely, investment of energy will wane. The condence of team members can be bolstered by providing feedback, coaching, assessment and professional development opportunities. It is also important to have team members evaluate how well they support the contribution of others.