5 Key Focus Areas that Separate Great Teams from the Mediocre
Managing and leading teams is a tough business. Behind King Crab Fishing, it might be the toughest job you can find on planet earth! You have to deal with different personalities . . . Ensure the team is performing . . . Understand and set the right priorities . . . Keep everyone aligned AND happy! Need I say more?
The good news is that I CAN help. After spending more than 30,000 hours with dysfunctional teams, I have identified and refined the 5 key focus areas that separate great teams from the mediocre. Read on to start turning your team(s) around.
5 Key Focus Areas to Transform Mediocre Teams into Healthy, Relevant, Great Teams
1. Achieve Absolute Clarity on Mission and Vision
Great teams know where they are heading. More importantly, they understand the ‘why’ behind what they do affording them clear vision and purpose. This clarity both converges and energizes teams breeding higher performance, lower stress, higher energy and increases in the ‘personal value equation’
If ANY of your team members cannot answer these 2 questions, then you need to take a MAJOR step back and realign the team.
- What is the Mission and Vision of our team?
- What is YOUR contribution to the Mission and Vision of our team?
Your Action Item: Forward progress is NOT possible without clarity. Make sure each team member is clear and happy with their contribution to the Mission and Vision. Do whatever work is necessary to achieve clarity across ALL team members. If unsuccessful, reevaluate your mission and/or replace team members.
2. Set Clear Priorities with Measurable Performance Metrics
Great teams focus on the SAME priorities and move on to the next ONLY when the initial priorities are completed. What makes many teams ‘mediocre’ is that they own and take on way too much all at once. The result is a group of ‘individual contributors’ working separately on different things versus a high performing team working together. This practice produces activity but little meaningful progress.
Your Action Item: Truthfully, prioritizing on the priorities themselves can be challenging. Bring order back to your team by using the Mission, Vision, and Strategies to set priorities that is properly distributed and realistic. And then apply discipline to stick to them until completed.
3. Foster Strong Team Dynamics, Communication and Support
Great teams are SELF-AWARE. Members know and understand their roles and responsibilities; the team, as a whole, recognizes INDIVIDUAL strengths and weaknesses as well as TEAM strengths and weaknesses; and each member is willing to leverage individual and/or team strengths for the good of the team. This kind of collective self-awareness creates individual ownership, mutual respect, a sense of value and genuine collaboration of strengths.
Your Action Item: Great teams realize they are human ‘beings’ first and human ‘doings’ second. What this means is that they spend the time necessary to understand one another’s NEEDS and then act accordingly in terms of communication and support. The best way to jumpstart this process is to conduct a ‘Team Dynamics Session’ with your team.
I don’t care how high-performing your team is today, I guarantee a session to collectively clarify the following can dramatically increase team/individual performance and individual satisfaction:
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Communication, Support and Team Needs
4. Develop Healthy Relationships with Other Cross-Functional Teams and Stakeholders
Great teams realize they are one cog in a wheel. In order to create a well-oiled machine, each cog must work together to achieve a higher mission. This concept of team inter-dependency is well-understood but, in most cases, poorly implemented.
For instance, mediocre teams delay involving their cross-functional dependencies until they are ready to ‘reveal’ their work product with the expectation that the other team(s) will adapt. Instead of a well-oiled ‘hand-off,’ this practice ‘gums up the works’ with conflict, resentment and potential roadblocks and/or delay. Great teams, on the other hand, involve inter-dependent stakeholders/teams/customers BEFORE the work is defined to understand their needs, create dual ownership and open the lines of communication and buy-in.
Your Action Item: Be proactive and reach out to a cross-functional team with whom your team is highly inter-dependent. Conduct a ‘Team to Team Optimization’ Session and healthily work through ‘What’s Working/Not Working.’ The key is allowing teams to openly vent any pent-up frustration and then steer that frustration into solutions.
5. Create and Maintain a Healthy Brand Image Throughout the Company
You might ask, what’s so important about Team Brand Image? Think about it. No one wants to be part of a mediocre team but everyone wants to be part of a great one!
Great teams are contagious and well known throughout their company because they actively demonstrate points 1-4! They also purposefully shape their image by asking critical questions, such as:
- How do we want to be perceived within the company?
- What do we believe our current Brand Image is today?
- Who could we ask to confirm/invalidate?
- Where can our Brand Image improve?
- What do we need to do about it?
- Who needs to feel the positive change?
Great teams realize perception is reality when it comes to Brand Image. They also realize they need to continue to deliver to sustain that image.
Your Action Item: This is a scary one but well worth your efforts in ‘upping’ your team’s Brand Image. It will also help solidify in your own minds where you need to improve. Start by creating your team’s ideal ‘5 Key Brand Image Characteristics.’ Then conduct a survey with other teams to see how well you are performing against these areas. Close in on any gaps and CELEBRATE where your team is already winning.
Keep it Simple and Start With ONE of the Above areas
In your next team meeting, ask your team members if they believe your team is ‘great’ or ‘mediocre.’ Share this blog with them as a pre-read assignment. If your team is hitting on all marks, make sure you show your appreciation for them and do everything within your power to keep your great team! Spectacular work! If there are gaps, get everyone on board and do whatever you can to healthily work towards greatness!
I’d Love to Help You, Really
Privately send me your challenges, questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t guarantee I’ll have all the answers, but I will be candid, truthful and genuine at all times with you. All of us deserve to be inspired and joyful in our lives. We simply need to work towards it.
PLEASE HELP ME GROW MY BLOG 🙂
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