No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The Way I See It… Team Tactics


DiscussionsAre your teams able to hit the ground running? Here Mark West sets out why they need to be ready and how to prepare them.

We don't belong to one team any more; we belong to many. Moreover some of those teams - project teams for example - may be short lived. We no longer have three months for the forming, storming, norming, performing model of teams - that is far too long. In today's cross-functional, matrix and multicultural teams top performing executives have to be ready to hit the ground running. So how can this be achieved?

Anyone who says there is one simple answer to this question is either deceiving you or themselves. But there some 'essentials' which, once in place, can ensure that teams are prepared for the challenges they will face.

1. Team values. Culture is one of the most powerful predictors of team performance. However, even when teams have clearly stated values they are often unclear how these translate in behavioural terms. For example, if trust or support are stated by a team as being important values then what behaviours will identify these?

It is well worth teams spending time and getting specific about those behaviours that represent what they stand for. As part of this it is also well worth teams working on clusters of values, e.g. trust, honesty and respect, which can be usefully considered together. Such clusters help teams to establish both who they are and how they work together as well as holding individuals to bringing the best of themselves to work.

2. Meta programmes. Some analysts suggest that performing teams must have a balance of 'types' but profiling isn't always practical, especially when teams have to come together fast. So what can be done?

One powerful insight is for team players to understand that they will have distinctive strategies they bring to work. For example, some people work better with big chunks of information while others prefer small chunks. Some people have avoidance strategies while others have attraction strategies. Some people always like to open up possibilities while others like to know that there is one 'best' way of doing things.

These are called 'meta programmes' and people use different programmes in different contexts. Awareness of meta programmes is incredibly useful for team players because once individuals know how they and their colleagues respond to given situations they can work with each others' strengths. And of course with awareness comes flexibility, which is also extremely important if individuals want to develop their effectiveness.

3. Responsible relationships. Generating and maintaining positive relationships is the third central concern for performing teams. Just imagine for a moment someone coming into your office whom you have a poor relationship with. What effort do you make on their behalf? How much information do you share? What does their presence do to your energy? Yet in most teams relationships are given scant regard.

This needs to be changed. Team leaders and team players need tools at hand to help them negotiate more productively, see each other more positively and to resolve conflict when it occurs. Everyone in a team needs to take responsibility for relationships if a team is to maintain its momentum.

4. Two way communication. The final essential for teams is communication. This includes how individuals can develop rapport, how team players need to speak, ask questions and listen to one other and how they can see beyond their assumptions.

It is said that 'the meaning of communication is the response you get' and this points to the need for people to pay much closer attention both to how they give out and receive information. Take the following anecdote for example which highlights what happens when communication is assumed: This incident occurred when I was working with a group of managers on an outdoor exercise which involved teams helping each other to negotiate a ropes course. During this exercise a female delegate was being supported by her colleague who looked at her and asked: "OK?" "Yes," responded the woman at which point her colleague let her go and she was left dangling from the safety harness.

So what had gone wrong? The problem was with the communication. What he really meant was? "OK? Because I'm going to let go now." What she really meant was "Yes - so long as you keep hold of me!" As you can imagine this incident showed them both how important it is for clear communication to be both given and received.

There is one final and important point to make here, these skills are not only important, they are enjoyable to learn. Furthermore they enrich people's lives both in and out of work.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!