THE SKILLS, ATTITUDES, GOALS, expectations and key ingredients that make up any high level sporting team are the same as those that are required to be an effective corporate ‘Dream Team’. It is for this very reason that so many famous sportspeople go on to become motivaitonal speakers and authors, consulting to the business world.
So what are the major characteristics that all ‘Dream Teams’ possess? Read on.
The most important characteristics of any team is having a common goal. A team might have the most talented individuals, but unless their skills and energy are focused on achieving a desired result, these stars are just black holes, absorbing valuable resources as they head off in the wrong direction. Continuing on from the sporting metaphor, imagine that after half time the football goals were removed. The players run back onto the field only to discover that there is no single direction. They pass the ball back and forth in confusion, and many lose their motivation to play all together. [quote float=”right”]The reality is that many businesses are playing without goals…[/quote]
The reality is that many businesses are playing without goals, and the simplest way to confirm this is to ask staff to repeat the company’s mission. “Making money” or “being number one” do not qualify as mission statements. How can your staff invest all of their energy, skills and expertise into achieving the mission or goal of your company if they don’t even know what it is? And that’s why a common goal, that is broadcast and memorised, is vital.
If you have space on your walls, fill it. If you have weekly meetings, repeat it. If you have a yearly award, highlight those staff who helped achieve the common goal. And that means not just giving lip service to your common goals, but continuously measuring and announcing the status of this common goal.
A company, like ClarkMorgan, has been successful because we are acutely aware of our own and colleagues’ job functions. The co-founder, Morry Morgan, might have his family name in the business, but that doesn’t mean he makes all the decisions. Quite the contrary. Clear job descriptions and an adherence to the ‘chain of command’ has meant that day-to-day decisions are made by other directors. Morry’s decision making is only evident on a Board level, and that’s only four times a year.
This might be shocking for a lot of China-based organisations, where the ‘lao ban’ (Simplified Chinese: 老板), or boss, or even the, ‘lao ban niang’, (Simplified Chinese: 老板娘) meaning wife of the boss, is the owner of the business ‘until death do ye part’. But if roles are not defined, and just as importantly, enforced, then productivity, motivation and staff retention will crash and burn. [quote float=”left”]But if roles are not defined, and just as importantly, enforced, then productivity, motivation and staff retention will crash and burn.[/quote]So if you don’t already have a defined job description for each role, that outlines performance measurements, specific responsibilities, targets, and even day-to-day or week-to-week tasks, then get writing. There may also be some serious legal consequences for failing to communicate these responsibilities.
And it doesn’t stop there. Each member of your team should have a clear understanding of their colleagues’ roles and responsibilities, and how together they contribute to an organisation’s overall success. This ‘peripheral vision’ is instrumental in opening up opportunities for cooperation, cross-team communication and ultimately synergy. The more staff know what their colleagues are doing, the more likely they are able to assist others around them. Defined roles remove the blinkers and create possibilities – and profits!
Clear and open communication is the glue that brings everything together. Whenever two or more people are involved then there is potential for misunderstanding, confusion and conflict. Maintaining consistent communication is one of the best ways to avoid this, and that involves ‘TALK’. [quote float=”right”]Clear and open communication is the glue that brings everything together.[/quote]
At ClarkMorgan we have a simple communication culture, based on the acronym, TALK. All staff are encouraged to TELL their colleagues what is happening within their area of influence. This is via formal weekly Monday morning meetings, and the use of Yammer, through to the informal use of WeChat. Staff are also encouraged to ASK questions, since no one can say “I already told you.” Likewise, the excuse that “nobody told me” is meaningless, since staff should have ‘ASKed’. Furthermore, ASK is a virtual safety blanket for new staff who are afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions.
Active LISTENing requires all staff to confirm and clarify understanding, which is inline with the mantra ‘communication is the response that’s receive’. LISTENing also means making eye contact, if in person, and giving 100% attention, rather than trying to multi-skill.
If everyone is TELLing, ASKing, and LISTENing, then the organisation simply KNOWs, and can adapt immediately to opportunities, changes and challenges, like a premier sports team.
All this leads to Synergy – the end goal of any team, sporting or corporate. Expectations, goals and desired outcomes are not just known, but are an ingrained part of each employee. Roles are more than understood; they are lived through a detailed knowledge of each employees’ place, as well as the roles of others, within the organisation. Staff understand how the actions and decisions that they make impact on those around them, workflow, process and the overall mission.
When an organisation is acting synergistically, communication is not forced or laboured, but occurs spontaneously as well as subconsciously. Business becomes more efficient, problems are resolved while they are still minor, morale improves and results are achieved. It’s no coincidence that such teams are labelled as a ‘dream’, since for many organisations this state of ‘business Nirvana’ is too good to be true. But just because it may be unreachable, doesn’t mean one shouldn’t reach for it. After all, if goals were easy, we wouldn’t need to set them.
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