Over the festive season, I reflected on the many challenges, successes, meetings and engagements I had the opportunity to be involved in throughout 2018. Both with my current employer, Mercer, and with many other meetings with other businesses beyond the day job, I reflected on what the most productive, enjoyable and effective activities I was involved in – and there seemed to be a theme of teams that work really well together. This got me reflecting on what those teams had in common, because going forward, I’ll be looking to draw out these skills to get my own teams firing on all cylinders. So in this week’s post is dedicated to some pretty amazing teams I interacted with last year – here’s four characteristics I observed.
They speak of a common purpose: Every company has its slogan, purpose, mission, schtick. The management team are whisked away to a secret event where they decide what the business (and sometimes culture) is all about. Marketing then turn it into cool posters, and HR add it to the staff handbook. From there, the purpose gathers dust, or gets recited like multiplication tables. But in strong and cohesive teams, the purpose is live – everyone may express it in their own way, but it’s clear that each team member connects with the purpose. A connected team makes the purpose their own.
They are open and transparent: Life is complicated, and businesses are no different. As well as the big picture, the competition, market conditions, the economy, Brexit and everything else, we still have a day job to do. It’s easy to suffocate the team spirit with so much other stuff going on, so the best performing teams make concerted efforts to be open and transparent. Not just with each other, but with all the other teams they are connected to. A connected team sees the importance of transparency in macro as well as micro detail.
They are not afraid of what’s around the corner: Uncertainty rules our lives. And whilst I’ve recently posted on our variable attitudes towards change, it is inevitable! With so much unpredictability, it’s easy to fall into the trap of over-analysing what might happen. Add to that office gossip, rumour mills and water-cooler “bosom-nudging” , and people start to fear what’s around the corner. At times of uncertainty, strong teams really shine. By pulling together, they clarify the message, and junk the nonsense. They are clear on their role as part of the greater business team, and because they work as a team, the ability to leverage the varied skills within the team to approach change in a positive way. A connected team uses the collective knowledge to adapt to and adopt change.
They smile a lot!: When was the last time you had fun at work? Maybe it was getting squiffy at the staff Christmas party? Or catching up with colleagues over lunch? Maybe it was the annual away day? Maybe it’s been quite a while. For many of us, the drudgery of work looses the fun element. Whilst to some extent, we all influence our own engagement and enjoyment in the workplace, the best performing teams have fun together. By lifting and supporting each other, and looking out for colleagues, a sense of enjoyment is shared. A connected team creates a sense of fun that drives their sense of purpose.
When I reflect on the strongest and most driven teams I met in 2018, some or all of the traits were self evident. As we start 2019, it’s a great time for you to reflect on your own teams – where are they really working, and were might the team work to build their spirit?