5 Key Steps Toward Optimizing Your Team

Blog - Erin - 7-10-2013

Teams.  Everyone has some sort of co-worker dynamic. None of us is truly “alone” in a work environment. But how do you develop a team? What makes some teams more successful than others?

Have you ever been part of a dysfunctional team? Sometimes it’s the leader, sometimes it’s the other team members, and sometimes it’s just lack of direction. Brandon Hall Group research shows that the impact of a dysfunctional team can negatively impact productivity — which is not a surprise — but the actual percentage is 44%. Does your organization really want to be running a 44% deficit because teams aren’t working well together?

In Brandon Hall Group’s Team Development Survey, respondents were asked about their top two priorities for team development. The clear winners were motivating teams to drive results in a unilateral direction and leadership development specific to managing teams. Basically, companies want great leaders who can get their teams to move forward. Sounds like a simple goal, but how can this be accomplished?

There are five stages in Brandon Hall Group’s Team Performance Maturity Model: Unpredictable, Enlightened, Focused, Structured and Optimized.  Within each stage we have analyzed the activities and disciplines across people, processes, systems and outcomes to understand how organizations can improve performance and growth. Organizations that are in the Unpredictable and Enlightened stages tend to have very little investment in their teams; no consistent processes, which lead to poor communication; lack of supporting technologies, which hinders performance and business results.  As organizations move across levels of maturity and reach the Optimized stage, they can achieve the following results:

•    Improved Company Culture and Employee Engagement

•    Increased Business Performance and Impact

•    Better Quality and Increased Productivity

•    Improved Market Share

•    Motivated teams that drive results in a coordinated effort

Next month, Brandon Hall Group will release a white paper providing insights on what high-performing organizations are doing to achieve greater team performance and business impact.  Our research will also show executives and managers how they can implement effective team development strategies.

In the meantime, I want to leave you with these five key practices that can help any organization improve its team performance:

  • Encourage communication. As the workforce becomes more global and dispersed it’s important to encourage collaboration and communication.
  • Explore new technologies. Social, mobile, gamification, etc., are not just ideas for the distant future. They’re here and can be used to benefit your organization.
  • Train appropriately. Many managers don’t receive any training about leadership and team development; help them learn so they can perform.
  • Invest in people. In one of Brandon Hall Group’s research surveys, more than 75% of respondents stated that their organization is not investing enough time and budget for team development . Set aside time and money to engage in team development. This alone will set you apart from many organizations.
  • Focus on relationships. Relationships Centered Learning, the concept of a community teaching many people both formally and informally, is where learning is evolving. Knowing your team and how each member’s unique knowledge and experiences can help improve the team, is vital toward optimizing development.

Teams are important, and if yours are dysfunctional, your organization is missing out on the power of one of the most important building blocks of an organization. Look at your teams with a critical eye and work to optimize them for improved business performance.

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Erin Spencer



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Erin Spencer