Teams are a high priority for any business that wants to succeed.
I am not going to rattle off stats on team building and why it is important.
The mere fact that you are on this page tells me that you understand how important it is to get teamwork right.
However, what I have come to see in my team coaching is that most of us know what a high-performing team should walk and talk like. We can list all the attributes of great teams.
But where we fall flat is in actually bringing the team together. In creating a team that’s focused, cohesive, and constantly improving.
This short guide is to help you think differently about team building.
My hope is that next time you decide to take your team for some “fun activities” you realise that although it has real benefit in bringing people closer together, it’s not what real team building consists of.
Throughout this guide, I will be referring to SAM Teams(Self-Augmenting Teams). It’s term that I coined that signifies the highest expression of teamwork.
I have worked with teams both great and awful.
Poor teams lack many things like:
- assertive communication
- and much more.
A SAM Team on the other hand is a team that is constantly doing the deep work required to build the team and the results they achieve.
It’s a team that has clarity on their mission and how they operate to achieve it. It’s team that’s purpose-led and bound together by their desire to achieve their objectives. It’s a team that builds the team every single day.
At the heart of it a Self-Augmenting Team is a team intently focused on two very big questions:
- How do I show up for the team?
- How do we show up as a team?
Showing Up For The Team
There are three things that individuals can focus on to improve how they show up for their team mates.
Internal self-awareness is your ability to pay attention to your thinking and behaviors. It’s a crucial skill that you need to develop if you are to improve who you are.
There is no way to change how we think or behave without the ability to pinpoint what we want to change. Internal self-awareness helps you to be aware of when your automatic programming is showing up and to then do something about it.
You can only go so deep with internal self-awareness and then no deeper. The problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, to take your awareness to the next level you need to rely on the feedback from others.
This becomes challenging because we are usually not great at giving or receiving feedback.
But if you are to really elevate your game then there is no way of getting around this type of feedback. It’s why organisations are hiring coaches by the thousands. It helps you to gain a better perspective of how you show up.
We often talk about accountability within a team but before we get to that we need to talk about your own personal accountability. Meaning the extent to which you take ownership of your decisions, actions, and the consequences thereof.
It’s easy to try and outsource ownership. But the truth is that you cannot do it.
Each person within a team has to develop their own sense of ownership and bring that to the team setting. It’s only from this norm that we can talk about being accountable for the team and as a team.
Showing Up As A Team
We have to understand that you cannot simply lob a group of A-players together and think that they are going to organically become the dream team.
It just doesn’t happen.
Great teamwork requires dedicated and directed effort.
“Consistency beats intensity. Consistency beats volume. Consistency beats passion. Consistency dictates results. Consistency is what defines character.” — Rich Roll
The number #1 thing that you can take-away from this article is this. Do not let your team-building efforts be a once a year outing. It has to be a daily focus within your team.
I have nothing against team-building activities and exercises done at resorts and in the outdoors. They are great and serve their own unique purpose. There is also evidence that suggests that it works.
All I am saying is don’t stop there.
The Bonds We Build
The first way we show up as a team is by deepening the relationships that we have with each other. It’s one of the things I love about watching sports teams perform. You can see that they have developed deep bonds that carry them through the hardest of times.
The business world is very different to sports though. And the way we build relationships are very different.
It’s key that businesses create the environment in which relationships can develop and thrive.
First and foremost this means creating Psychological Safety.
Defined by Kahn as, “being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career.”
Do you have my back no matter what happens?
Can I trust that you will look out for me and not betray the trust that I place in you?
Picking A Fight
Teams have to be clear about what they are trying to accomplish. It’s stunning when you realize how often teams are not on the same page around key objectives.
I have sat in on leadership teams where everyone has a different idea of what the team is working towards and what the purpose of the team is.
How can you achieve high-performance if team members literally do not agree on what a high-performance output would be?
It’s imperative that you and your team pick the same fight.
And that you then relentlessly remind each other of what the fight is and why you are fighting it in the first place.
Hopefully, this post gave you a moment to reflect on how you will be building your team and the intention and structure that you bring to it.
Make sure to also check out The New Principles For Modern Team Building.