HIGH PERFORMING TEAMS: How to Transform Your Team and Win!

How long does it take you to change a tire on your car? What about four tires on your car?

A Formula 1 driver and his team of well-trained pit crew members change four tires in less than 2 seconds. Watch this video and see for yourself! I guarantee that you will be in awe of the power of teamwork at its highest level.

Reality Check

If you are a leader of leaders, then just like a Formula 1 driver, you rely on your teams to get you across the finish line before your competitors. However, a lack of team engagement, performance, and positive culture can get in the way of your "race." 

The reality is that it is difficult to get the most out of a team even in the best of times. When you add the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 with its remote work, social isolation, and a general team overwhelm, you have an extremely difficult situation at hand. According to PWC, “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve, there has never been a more pressing need for organizations to rethink and reconfigure their businesses for a changed world.”

What difference would you see in your organization if you could “rethink and reconfigure” your team to a high performing team, and do it a positive way that sticks regardless of the global situation?

We want to share with you a way to do just that based on our extensive work with executives, corporate leaders, and business owners in the last 15 years.

 What Is Team Transformation?

It’s a clear process that takes a team on a leadership development journey to get better results and build a positive culture, while reducing stress, friction and general team overwhelm.

If we go back to our Formula 1 metaphor, team transformation is a process that provides your pit crew the right training, strategies, and tools so they can shave off 65 seconds from your pit stops. The end results? You and your team win!

What's the Problem?

Let’s begin by considering the 3 major types of problems that leaders and their teams face every day that stand in the way of their teams' transformation.

Whether you are a new leader, part of a restructured organization or a technical person who got the “congrats, you are now a new team leader,” the problems are always the same.

  1. Stress and overload. Teams are way too busy working rather than spending time on teamwork, understanding each other, and collaborating better.
  2. Limited budget. You might have a limited budget for team development. Most leaders get a few thousand dollars per team member, but each person goes off to a course by themselves. They miss out on a team journey learning together and then, implementing the takeaways together. Did you know that we forget up to 80% of information within the first 48 hours post training event? We might feel great about the material but there is no lasting impact on our behavior.
  3. Conflict and friction. Teams have friction. Interpersonal conflict, lack of good decision-making tools, or confusion around roles, goals and relationships on the team lead to friction. Team members start acting like a group of disjointed individuals going through the motions, rather than a cohesive team.

Since stress, money, and friction issues never go away entirely, leaders need practical and effective ways to address them.

 What Best Organizations Do

Studies show that the best organizations mitigate the problems of stress, money, and friction by doing something different.

What do they do?

Invest and leverage teamwork, so they can tackle the big problems they are facing. They shift their corporate culture from the skewed focus on the leader “who can do it all” to the team that has the resources and the power to do it all. The best organizations know that just like a Formula 1 driver cannot change four tires by himself in less than 2 seconds, team leaders need their teams to aligned and high performing. So, they invest in their people and take them on leadership developmental journey that gets them the best training, strategies, and tools.

Focus on strengths within their teams, rather than their gaps and weaknesses. We have bought into a myth in the business world that as leaders we need to be well-rounded. So, we channel our energy, time, and mind’s real estate on fixing “what’s wrong with us.” We ignore our strengths because after all they are strengths, they will take care of themselves, right?

Wrong.

Strengths are one of your organization’s most valuable assets and resources.

In a published study from 2016, Gallup assessed 1.2 million employees. For teams using a strengths-based approach, 90% of those studied had performance increases at or above the following ranges:

  • 10-19% increased sales
  • 14-29% increased profit
  • 9-15% increase in engaged employees
  • 3-7% higher customer engagement
  • 22-59% fewer safety incidents

Train their leaders to do, not just know. They abandon the old ways of leadership development because they don’t work. Instead, they design a comprehensive experience for the team to truly learn, apply and retain skills, so they can make better contributions. They do it through:

  • challenging assignments that foster collaboration between team members
  • experiential learnings that link learning to practice, i.e. micro learnings
  • facilitated learning as a team, a shared journey

The best organizations understand that better culture and more meaningful work lead to improved relationships and increased engagement, and that translates to better results.

The Zenger-Folkman study of a Fortune 500 mortgage firms demonstrated that effective leaders and their teams:

  • Doubled the profitability of the branches or firms that lead
  • Increased sales at 3x the rate of others branches or firms
  • Improved employee engagement which led to higher profits

  How Can Team Transformation Work For You?

Imagine reducing friction and general overwhelm on your team, unlocking your people’s best potential, and transforming your team to a high  performing team that’s engaged and productive. And doing it in a positive way.

If you could do that in 3-6 months, what would get easier in your life and how would it impact your team’s outcomes?

When we extract the similarities from 200+ team transformation programs, we find that shifting from friction, overwhelm, and stress to collaboration and communication can be overcome with a clear, well-defined process.

That process consists of 3 stages that lead a team to become healthy and high performing, focusing both on results (revenue, profit, cycle time, etc.) and on culture (engagement, recognition, trust, etc.)

Here are the 3 stages: Discovering, Teaming, and Performing. Each stage builds on the previous one, taking the team from striving to thriving, and high performing.

Stage 1 - DISCOVERING

This first stage of a team transformation journey is all about creating a shared perspective for your people - where they are individually, as a team, and as a business. This is the starting foundation of the journey ahead. The team addresses the “hidden” beliefs and makes them “visible.”

You and the team get to go through 3 specific steps in this stage:

  1. RECALIBRATION - team moves from stress to clarity, a common language and approach for the journey ahead. Everyone’s roles and expectations are defined and aligned with what they do best. It’s just like the “jack men” on a Formula 1 pit crew who know what they are responsible for and why, and that is their entire focus during the race.
  2. REVEAL – team members uncover their own blind spots and move towards greater self-awareness. They develop a better view of themselves, not unlike looking in the mirror and seeing the best of who they are.
  3. REGROUP - team moves from unknown-to-known as everyone on the team begins to appreciate each other which leads to a stronger team, especially after a setback. The team starts to be more productive because relationships improve as people start to “get each other” better.

Stage 2 – TEAMING

Teaming is the stage that takes team members beyond self-awareness and into practicing new skills. The group moves towards a cohesive team by partnering better, praising, and recognizing each other.

Team becomes cohesive, shifting from individuals working side by side to a team with a shared perspective, language, and goals. Watch the Formula 1 video again but with the sound off this time. You will quickly get the sense of what world class teaming looks like.

  1. PRAISE – team members encourage each other’s best. They begin to feel seen, valued and appreciated for their unique contributions. The positive feedback increases their confidence and a desire to contribute even more.
  2. PARTNER – team members move from frustration and feeling out-of-sync to falling in-sync by filling each other’s gaps and crafting peer partnerships.
  3. PIVOT – team finds alignment and focus on key results and their culture by building trust, showing compassion, offering stability, and bringing hope to one another. The team moves from a group to a real team that’s no longer disjointed but cohesive.

Stage 3 – PERFORMING

In this stage, the team works on something important together in a positive way, a way that’s focused on the team’s strengths not gaps and weaknesses. Team members solidify the mutual trust for each other which accelerates them towards results.

This stage is all about shaving off those 65 seconds at every pit stop, so that the driver and his team cross the finish line faster than the competitors.

  1. COMMUNICATE – team members learn and practice healthy and safe conversations. Team leads introduces structure to all the interactions within the team.
  2. COLLABORATE – team members shift from isolated to unified by embracing healthy conflict and solving challenges in a way that strengthens the team.
  3. CELEBRATE – the team moves from striving to successful because they have achieved something hard together. Team members celebrate their wins often. The team performs better fueled by authentic and meaningful celebrations.

As powerful and simple as this approach may be, there are many pieces that build upon each other and need to be sequenced in a way to create real, lasting change.

Practicing together is the key!

It is challenging to change individual and team behavior. First, it takes time to shift a strong team to a high performing team. Second, team leader must believe in human potential. But the transformation from a friction filled group to a high performing team culture leads to results that stick.

Take the Challenge

Here is a challenge for you if you are wanting to develop a high performing team that gets results and builds positive culture, without stress, high cost, or friction. It’s impossible for you to improve your team without first taking an honest inventory of what’s working and what should be improved.

Our Team Engagement Score will help you consider specific areas that high performing teams address regularly. The score reflects where your team is on a spectrum of Isolated Individuals to High Performing Team. It is included in the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

Get your Team Engagement Score by grabbing a copy of our Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

Once you know your score, you take your team through the 3 stages of discovering who they are, teaming better by practicing new skills, and performing in a way that brings meaning, satisfaction, and impact to the entire team.

Here is to you and all other "Formula 1" leaders who invest in their teams and win!

If you’re looking for more ideas around getting the most out of your team, download a copy of the Executive Guide to Healthy Teams.

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