As part of running a growing recruitment consulting business in a fast paced, dynamic environment of “constant change”, both in our clients organisational structures and the market, this topic sits at the forefront of my mind. I strongly believe that team dynamics has a major influence on the performance of the business and its resilience. A handpicked, complementary team of optimal size working to its own strengths, can weather all storms whereas a poorly managed, unbalanced and demotivated team of any size will definitely crumble the first time it is tested. I am passionate about this topic constantly observing the dynamics of successful teams, and those not so successful, as well as reading broadly on this subject. I define teams loosely, referring to sporting teams, different organisational types especially corporates vs consulting firms, specialist departments within corporates and also outside the corporate and sporting arena in our personal lives by looking at how well functioning and cohesive family units operate.
I was recently made aware of an article by my management coach: “World Class teams” by McKinsey & Company and it is worth sharing some of the insights. The article focuses on the NZ All Blacks Rugby teams from different eras and the key observation are highlighted below:
- The key reason that the All Blacks were so clearly identified as “great” was that they demonstrated (i) a lack of mistakes (ii) a high margin of victories (iii) being charged with energy and having fun
- Other contributions to their success were:
- They had a vision which focused on quality of performance and were ultimately trying to perfect this. Vision should be grand, highly aspirational and about breaking all boundaries but at the same time be clearly defined.
- There was a high level of ability across the team (not necessarily in each of the individuals). Individual members tend to be specialists in their own fields but are also able to turn their hands to other member’s tasks.
- A constant level of unease which drove an attitude to learning and development that was never satisfied with past achievements but always searching for the next challenge.
- A strong level of discipline and a set of boundaries that defined what was acceptable and unacceptable.
- Well developed processes for managing interpersonal relationships in the team.
- The lessons on leadership include:
- Leadership is important for any team.
- Leaders should not get in the way of the team.
- Leaders must demonstrate their own abilities to get the respect of team members and should set very high standards for themselves, exemplifying at all times the values of the team.
- A leader must identify and unite the different capabilities within the team to meet long and short term goals. This also involves managing the politics of the team.
- Providing focus by breaking the high level vision into objectives and finding appropriate motivations to translate desire into achievement.
Spending time thinking about the team you are managing and really trying to understand them as individuals and as a group will contribute to their ability to achieve and therefore to your own success.