Have you ever reached a point in communication where things are just bad, to put it mildly? Despite our best intentions, communication can break down. If issues are not rectified, trust and relationships deteriorate to the point where people—good people—become antagonistic and aggressive in their communication. This happens in personal lives, and it happens at work.
A number of years ago, I was called in to help a client. The client was a large resources company here in Perth that worked closely with external service providers. At that time, a lot of work in the industry was being completed by external service providers, so the operating company needed to work extremely closely with external organisations on a daily basis. And, they needed efficient, effective, deep, and healthy communication for this to be a success. In this instance, the communication was failing in all areas and project disaster was a very real and rapidly approaching possibility. Read on to discover how we worked through the conflict and got the team on track to success.
I’m sure I don’t need to espouse the benefits of learning and knowledge here—we all know that we need to continuously learn and grow to stay relevant and be successful in life (not to mention the intrinsic joy to be had in the process of learning). What we all potentially need reminding of though, particularly in this era of tweets and listicles, is that long-form written works, books, are key in developing a deeper understanding. There are so many books that I love, that I had difficulty in keeping it to ten. Read on if you are serious about leading and developing a high-performing team. In no particular order...
Teams are dynamic. People change and team members come and go whether by design or unexpectedly. The focus and purpose of a team can change, particularly when working on projects as they move through phases from design to implementation and operations. Additionally, teams will go through different stages of development, or a lifecycle. Each of these shifts necessitates a mindset and a skill change for the team as a whole and the individuals who compose it.
Perhaps the most popular of team models is Tuckman’s Forming-Storming-Norming and Performing model, and the more recent addition of a fifth stage of Adjourning, Transforming, or Mourning. As a high-level concept, the model is fantastic, but in this post we’ll focus on a more detailed lifecycle that is more appropriate in a workplace increasingly dominated by projects. Read on for a handy infographic that you can use to analyse your team's current needs and what you should be focusing on as a leader.
As much as our culture may romanticise the idea of the lone-wolf, humans are social creatures and we have always worked in teams. Teams bring massive value to our work, and are becoming more important and prominent in the contemporary workforce. Aside from the benefit of simply having more people working on the job, teams bring benefits through the mixing of ideas, talent and skills. The discussions that arise from contrasting ideas lead to synergy and better outcomes.
Leading organisations are already seeking to improve diversity in their workforce. Often though, these good intentions are implemented in ways that leave a lot to be desired...
Culture is a collection of beliefs, behaviours, and states of being that are held by a group of people at a particular time. It is often described as “how we do things around here”. It exists on multiple levels, from small groups such as teams or families, through to broader groups such as social classes, national cultures, or pan-national cultures. It is complex, messy, and near impossible to design and create in an orderly way.
That said, culture is integral to the performance and operations of a team, and it can be changed to improve team performance. The key question is ‘how’. Before we get to the how, however, we need to understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’.