High Performing Teams: Three Pitfalls to Avoid
Have you ever been on a really great team? Why was it great?
Great teams that accomplish amazing goals and are enjoyable to be on do not happen by accident. It takes a savvy team leader and team members who are willing to risk sharing their unique strengths and differences for the good of the team.
How do we build these great teams and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid?
#1 – Negative Thinking
Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. Helen Keller
Building great teams starts with building a strong foundation of respect and trust. Without these, the team will always struggle with communication, judgmental attitudes, personal agendas, and lack of valuable transparency. Teams that have a foundation of trust perform better. According to Paul J. Zak in his Harvard Business Review article, the Neuroscience of Trust, employees of high-trust companies as compared to low-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement, and 29% more satisfaction with their lives. Wow – who wouldn’t want to be part of this team!
Given the strong importance for trust, why is it team members do not respect and trust one another? I believe we need to take a good look in the mirror and determine to stop thinking the worst of our teammates. We need to expect the best and not jump to negative conclusions. We need to get rid of the stereotypes we think, believe, and act on about one another.
If we want to be part of a great team then it is time to start giving our teammates the benefit of the doubt, to trust them, to forgive them, to put ourselves in their shoes, to encourage them, and to share credit with them. In fact, when we start thinking positively about one another, amazing things can happen.
#2 – The Meeting-After-the-Meeting
Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people. Steve Jobs
Admittedly, I have on a few occasions been part of “the meeting-after-the-meeting”. You probably know this pitfall too. It goes something like this: you sit through a meeting where the leader and maybe a couple of teammates do all the talking, enthusiastically make the decisions, and then the meeting ends with you feeling confused, in disagreement, or with a lack of energy. At this point, the “meeting-after-the-meeting” occurs. You stick around afterwards commiserating with another teammate about the terrible decision or you huddle somewhere to criticize and complain.
If we want to be part of a great team then we need to risk speaking up during the meeting and sharing our thoughts, ideas, and disagreements. Obviously, we need to be respectful but if we do not speak up, the team misses out on valuable input and possibly the best idea for great success. Let’s decide today to stop “meeting-after-the meeting” and make sure each team member is encouraged to respectfully speak up, ask questions, and voice concerns.
#3 – My Idea or The Best Idea
None of us is as smart as all of us. Ken Blanchard
Which is better, my idea or the best idea for the team? If you have ever been part of a great team, you probably responded with “the best idea for the team”. Unfortunately, we often refuse to truly embrace our teammate’s ideas. We may not outwardly say it but rather our refusal plays out in subtle ways. We don’t take part in the follow up, we lack energy to stay on task, or we just plain do not do our part.
I may talk a good game about wanting the team to succeed but when their ideas do not benefit me or my personal goals, I may have a tendency to protect my own idea. If we want to be part of a great team, then what is best for the team is to tap into and embrace ideas from all team members. I need to let go of thinking my idea is the best idea and trust the collective team for the best idea. After all, “none of us is as smart as all of us.” What holds you back from embracing change and others’ ideas? Consider your motives and ways to overcome the fear of the unknown. Once we accomplish this, then we are well on our way to becoming a great high performing team!