For teams to achieve their potential requires work in several areas:
⦁ Working on the team itself – What is our collective work? How are we going with it?
⦁ Individuals working on themselves – What is my contribution in the team? What are my strengths and development areas? What do others need from me?
⦁ Developing an ongoing reflective learning practice – How are we going performing and developing as individuals and a team? What’s the next priority area and how will we put that into practice?
Many groups aspire to be teams but fall into various traps like; being too narrowly results focused, too individually focused, all action and no reflection or learning, or avoidant of the people development work necessary to move beyond being a cooperative group. Harvard Social Psychologist, Richard Hackman, spent his career researching and consulting on team performance. In summary, his work can be captured in a 3P model of team performance:
Purpose – the team should be focused on achieving the objectives set for it
People – the team environment should be enabling for those in the team
(Google and others have popularised the phrase psychological safety)
Process – each time the team comes together it should get more effective in their team processes and across the previous two dimensions
Hackman also identified the need for expert team coaching to support development across these dimensions and cautioned that not all work was teamwork.
A further challenge for teams is the complex and rapidly changing contexts in which they operate. Senior teams in particular face the challenge of managing a portfolio of work across 3 horizons of performance:
⦁ Core work – leading performance and improvement in core work practices
⦁ Adaptation and change work – letting go of past practices and leading change in the organisation
⦁ Innovation work – creating the environment for innovation and enabling future practices to emerge
Each of these horizons requires effective practices and capability in both business and human domains. The idea of the ambidextrous organisation that can balance effective execution and exploration for innovation is gaining increased attention.
These ideas on teamwork and organisational effectiveness are drawn from the latest academic research and contemporary management practice and provide foundations for much of Saul’s work. For more insights and ideas look for other posts in our ‘groups and teams’ series or get in touch to discuss how we might help your team achieve its potential.