“We don’t seem to be making any meaningful headway. There’s conflict and back-biting amongst team members, each team is very protective of their respective pieces of turf and the business lacks focus”. I hear this quite frequently as I consult with companies – strategic goals not being executed effectively as a result of a lack of cohesion and focus within teams. Some of the many reasons for team ineffectiveness could include:

  • Poorly-defined or inadequately-communicated strategies
  • Unclear or misaligned goals
  • Lack of trust and collaboration
  • Poor work methods within teams and between teams
  • Autocratic leadership styles and demotivating leadership behaviour
  • Disengaged employees

Having a good plan does not guarantee effective team execution. In fact, Marcus Buckingham, who wrote the book: “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, suggests that within a company, you can simultaneously find great teams (operating effectively) and poor teams (getting poor results) in spite of the fact that they are being paid in the same way, working from the same set of values, working under the same conditions and enjoying the same benefits, etc. The difference, he proposes, is that the great teams have found a way of utilising the individual strengths of each team member towards the ultimate goals of the team.

It would seem from the above that harnessing the strengths of team members in alignment to the values of the company and, at the same time, providing laser focus on the strategic goals that need to be achieved, lead to team performance. Leaders thus need to do the following:

  • Identify the strengths of team members and find ways of employing these strengths in the team mission
  • Communicate a clear vision and articulate the strategy, plan, behavioural expectations and accountabilities effectively
  • Create a structured approach to employee engagement – constructive feedback, continuous improvement discussions and performance management
  • Establish cohesion and connect team members with each other, with the importance and meaning of their work and to the organisational strategic objectives and values
  • Develop a platform for innovation and creativity, where ideas can be heard and individual and team levels of confidence are enhanced
  • Provide adequate, efficient and effective resources
  • Celebrate team wins appropriately and recognise above-average performance
  • Ensure strategic, tactical and operational conversations are conducted at the right time by the right people

Operational excellence is an essential factor towards accelerating progress in the respective journeys of organisations. Operational excellence results from teams executing common goals well. This culture of operational excellence needs to be constructed and sustained by management.

Free To Grow assists teams/organisations execute common goals through TeamConnect. This methodology (plus App) makes use of structured team meetings as well as on-the-job coaching (www.freetogrow.com)

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