Article written by:
Peter. M. Scott
Designs & Delivers Winning Strategies & Business Transformations
High performing teams are behind major Mergers and Acquisitions, complex & innovative New Product Design and Introductions, and multiplex company change transformations.
In fact, whenever a firm needs a complex strategic game changer involving creativity, multidisciplinary & cross functional skills, fast implementation and superior performance, then an executive level High Performing Team is needed.
But how exactly do you rapidly assemble a world class executive high performing team?
In particular, how does the ‘C’ suite create the framework that provides the challenge, the incentive and the opportunity for cross functional initiatives, together with external professional advisors, to become multi-disciplinary high performing teams…. and deliver success ahead of the competition?
Of course, it’s easy to convene a team of senior leaders and experts, hold a ‘kick-off’ and ‘team building’ meeting off site and set the hares running, but it’s surprising just how many senior level high performing teams fail… either through politics, poor objective setting, communications breakdown or personality & style clashes.
However, with a bit of thought and some judiciously applied management and control techniques the ‘C’ suite could set up up High Performing Teams that are not only able to do the job, but do the job better than the rest of the sector.
Here’s how to do it:
In essence, there are 5 main elements to setting up successful High Performing Teams: 1) Articulating theTeam Challenge, 2) Gaining Ownership, 3) Developing Relationships, 4) Acquiring & Applying Knowledge and 5) Maintaining Discipline.
1) Articulating the Team Challenge: By developing a Team Performance Challenge the ‘C’ suite and the team together create a clear common objective.This process of building, refining and clarifying the challenge, enables the ‘C’ suite and team members together to understand the objectives and barriers whilst gaining collective ownership of the issue.
Once the challenge is agreed the team needs to determine what external skills/knowledge is needed to to deliver the challenge.. e.g. external Strategy Consultants, Lawyers, Merchant Bankers.
Finally, how will the team work together and how will it measure itself is discussed and agreed. The summary of all these elements is held within a ‘Team Charter’
Both the challenge and the charter need to be living documents that are amended over time
If the Team Challenge is appropriately set, it will only be achieved by using the knowledge in the team, maintaining discipline, working towards team ownership and developing relationships
2) Gaining Ownership: This is around two main ideas, firstly to gain commitment of the whole team to the outcome, which means articulation of the challenge into individual commitments, driven by recognition and reward for success, and secondly to make explicit mutual and individual accountability, which may involve the setting up of smaller ‘sub’ teams
3) Developing Relationships: People with different skill sets, backgrounds and styles are not only common in High Performing team, they are often the essential component for success. Therefore, some tools and techniques to help team members understand each other, value each other’s contributions and resolve differences are essential. Feedback, Coaching and Learning are other areas where specific techniques are useful for the team, to encourage them to recognise opportunities to support others and give constructive feedback, especially in group meetings.
4) Acquiring and Applying Knowledge: This is about selection of the right functional and technical skills before start-up, and it’s especially important that people with the right skills are selected on merit, not politics. Additionally, there may be some group competencies (e.g. negotiation techniques) that the team may need to develop with external help.
5) Maintaining Discipline: The team will need tools and techniques to manage two issues; Agreement of a common approach, especially in things like meeting management and how team decisions are taken, and secondly how the team monitors and measures performance, including tracking progress, measuring results and taking remedial actions.
Recently, I have been asked to advise Boards in situations where expensive and important high performing teams are failing to deliver. It’s surprising that in many cases the whole project has failed at the very first hurdle… that is not properly defining the challenge and the outcomes…. but in all cases the remedial answer to failing Executive teams lies in looking at the big picture, rather than the surface symptoms of why teams succeed or fail.
By following the 5 steps above, Boards and Executives have a much better chance of strategic success with their high performing executive teams
If you would like a discussion, together with some innovative ideas, tools and techniques, about how to set up High Performing Teams, then contact Peter M. Scott.