How to get your own A-Team.
You probably recall the 1980s TV series The A-Team, which represented one definition of an A-Team; an elite group of special forces soldiers. As a team, they also stood out for their exceptional skills and sense of purpose. Characteristics which are valuable in any team.
Having an A-team with the right characteristics vastly increases your chances of achieving the business process improvement (BPI) outcomes and continuous improvement (CI) you want. Whether you are using Lean or possibly components of Six Sigma in an office, service, distribution or manufacturing environments, or Last Planner in projects or construction, or you’re using MOS. Mastering these BPI tools is the easy bit!
Making changes to your own and other people’s habits and routines is the challenge. Getting a team onboard and making changes will mean building a positive team culture and their ability to tackle the work.
Your role in an A-Team
Whatever role you work in, you’ll also be on a team or maybe several teams. You and your team members work together, you co-operate, your work is interdependent, and your aim is to achieve a purpose or a goal.
You also contribute to the culture of the team. The ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour of individual team members have an impact on other members of the team. And team and workplace culture effects people’s sense of belonging, their growth, their ability to relate to one another, and their self-esteem.
We take cues from one another all the time. Whether you are up the front or a member of a team, you will influence and affect your team’s culture. Using these five tactics will help make your team a highly productive A-Team.
1. Purpose and goals
Knowing where the project is heading is unarguably necessary for everyone on the team. Not just at the beginning of the project, but throughout the project.
The goals, the outcomes, and how the project aligns to the purpose of the organisation are points of reference which we often forget when they are involved in the day-to-day details of getting things done.
Talking about what you are aiming to achieve frequently is essential to keep them top of mind and reinforce their importance.
Use your goals and outcomes as you work. When you are planning activities within the project, think about the activity in the context of the goals and outcomes. When problems arise, and solutions are being considered, avoid going off on a tangent by checking your solutions against the goals and outcomes you’re aiming for.
“Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
John F. Kennedy.
2. Happiness and good personal relationships
Happiness is important to us. It isn’t just a passing emotion, but a deep sense of our state of being, and that we are doing well. It has a positive effect on our health, our relationships, and our performance. It helps us cope effectively with difficulties and challenges. And, when our relationships and connections with people provide meaning and support, our feelings of self-worth increase.
So, investing in a happy team with good personal relationships among team members will help the team do its job well.
In 2013, CBS news reported that Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report found widespread disinterest and unhappiness in workplaces and estimated that the effect on company performance cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion a year. Then in 2015, a study in the UK induced a happy mood in randomly selected study participants. Demonstrating that even when happiness is induced by seeing a comedy clip or having drinks and snacks increases productivity by around 12%, compared to not being made happier.
Underestimating the value of social interaction within your team can undermine your attempts to generate greater productivity. Friendships at work, chat between colleagues that makes a coffee break a bit longer, social activities, informal meetings, laughter and some fun can all set people up to do their best work producing better outcomes.
3. Training and Learning
Shutting down the opportunity to explore new ideas or rejecting and criticising people with new ideas will breed attitudes and a culture that limit growth, innovation, and creating competitive advantage.
Conversely, guiding people and providing opportunities to learn and grow has positive effects. The opportunity to learn and grow is one of twelve dimensions that Gallup’s multiyear research on the health of the workplace identified as a key to employee retention, productivity and profitability. It also builds trust, and a sense of never quite being satisfied with the way things are being done now. Driving the search for better more efficient and productive ways to work.
It requires time, effort, and resources to help people to be and do their best. Encouraging them to develop. Helping them to identify what they do best. Providing training, as well as time and space to learn as they work. Talking to them about their progress and supporting them as they refine abstract ideas into something defined and executable which will be useful.
Learning and growing requires a worker to take risks. Stepping outside what is familiar to them and being brave enough to challenge the status quo. To let workers truly learn and grow, it must go hand-in-hand empowerment and responsibility.
4. Empowerment and responsibility
By creating conditions in which the beneficial combination of learning, growth, and empowerment can flourish you will dramatically improve productivity. While staff, stifled by rigid, old-fashioned management models, lacking the power to act or the opportunity to take responsibility will create little value from training and learning investments.
Let people do their job. By making decisions and participating in decision-making processes they will grow, bringing more innovative ideas and greater depth and breadth of perspective and to major decisions.
Give team members more authority by trusting them and making them accountable. Empowering them with fair and useful performance reviews, by modelling the attitudes and behaviours you expect from them, encouraging and fostering their ability to make the decisions they own. Then back them up; by being open and available to help them and using their errors to help them learn from the experience.
Autonomy is a motivator. Accountability is the guidelines and expectations you set with them. Make them accountable without generating fear and you will truly empower them.
“Joy is the feeling of one’s power increasing.”
5. Collaboration, sharing, and flexibility
The members of your A-Team want to learn and improve themselves. They’ll be resilient when they face the uncertainty and changes a BPI or CI program brings. However, you can add to their sense of belonging, reduce anxiety, and add to productivity by getting them working more closely together.
Getting a team to share knowledge and information, tricks that save time, and ideas will take encouragement. As will getting them to understand that collaboration is more than interdependent work activities flowing smoothly from one person to another.
Encouraging sharing will help build their personal relationships and their understanding of the effort they each make towards the team’s goals. Opening the door for more collaboration, as they learn about each other and the strengths they each have to offer.
Their growing understanding of each other, and the work they each do will increase flexibility within the team. When the unexpected occurs, they will adapt more quickly, and accommodate modifications and changes more easily.
Make it all work together
It is obvious that there are strong links between each of these tactics. One tactic alone won’t make a difference. And you need to provide many other things, such as appropriate materials and equipment, to make the team successful.
Never forget that people, with all their fears and foibles, will always be critical to a project’s success. Creating an environment which prepares and positions them well to do the work, is the key to individual and team success.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-most-americans-unhappy-at-work/ https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx?utm_source=SOAW&utm_campaign=StateofAmericanWorkplace&utm_medium=2013SOAWreport .