Stephen Asbury, CEO of Frontera and a 21st Century (www.21century.co.za) associate talks about what the muscle of your business is.
If your organisation structure is the bones and joints of your business, then teams are the muscle. Just like ligaments and tendons in the body, teams tie the parts of your enterprise together and make things move.
So if you’re going to succeed – deliver quality products, provide great services and delight your customers – you need teams that work, and work well. Without effective teams you’re just the walking dead without the motor skills to go where you want to go.
First off, are you clear about your direction? Do you have market focus? Exactly what do you offer to which customers for what benefit to them? Have you set clear business goals – for this month, this year and maybe next year? Are you organised to deliver your strategy in the simplest way possible?
All good. You’ve got direction. Now you need teams to get it done. To borrow from the old mantra for the property business, the three golden rules of strategy are Execution, Execution and Execution!
Or maybe that should be Execution, Execution and Capacity Building, because – just like an athlete – you can’t sustain performance without building up your strength.
So start with building the capability of your teams – the strength training for your business.
What is a team? A team is any group of people who work together to achieve something, a shared outcome. It may be a sales team, or a call centre team, or a rugby team, or the executive team of a multinational corporation. The same simple rules for success apply to all of them.
It starts with the team leader. Every team needs a leader, a captain, a chief. And the success of that team is almost entirely dependent on what the team leader does – and doesn’t do.
Let’s get something out of the way right up front. Great teamwork isn’t achieved with white water rafting, or fire walking or murder mystery evenings. Sure, it’s good to know more about your colleagues and what makes them tick. But that’s not even the beginning of getting things done.
Great teamwork is achieved by consistent application of some age-old basics:
- Clear accountabilities. Does everyone know exactly what they are accountable for? Even with detailed job descriptions, people often don’t really know what they are supposed to do. The team leader needs to make the team is crystal clear about its RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consult and Inform – a simple powerful tool you can easily Google).
- Simple measures. Are there a few clear measures for each individual, and for the team as a whole? People love to know when they are doing a good job. They want to know what they must deliver and whether they are getting it right
- Robust disciplines. Good teams have solid routines that create a regular cadence – daily, weekly or monthly – usually in the form of team meetings. Plan-Do-Review – the drumbeat of performance.
- Coaching for performance and growth. Team members thrive on good, objective feedback. They will be more committed if they feel their performance is fairly assessed, if their good work is acknowledged and fairly rewarded. A sense that one is being encouraged to grow and advance is profoundly motivating.
- Skills. Team members need technical skills to get the job done – accounting skills, or merchandising skills or front desk customer service skills. And also management skills – especially for team leaders – to keep the team engaged, focused and productive from Monday to Friday.
What are these management skills then? What does a team leader need to help his or her team become successful?
We find that that many South African managers have never been given the simple basics of management, how to run an effective meeting, how to give constructive feedback, the essentials of communication – especially listening skills, problem solving and decision making using the power of the team, resolving conflict and boosting motivation.
With these simple skills a manager is equipped to build a real performance and growth relationships with each member of his team, and manage the work and dynamics of the group as a whole.
Without management skills, the team leader will not be able to lead. Her team will be no more than a bunch of people who are never going to get to where they need to go.
Practise these basic techniques to help your teams build their strength.
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