Today’s extremely competitive and dynamic workplace challenges the best of the teams. What makes one team more effective from the other? How does a team maintain balance?
Certain culture promotes short term outcomes which can hinder well-balanced teamwork. The financial sector is a great example where the focus is on short term profits at the expense of a long term strategy, destroying companies and careers. In fact, many companies today are so laser-focused on ‘this quarter’s results’ that opportunities in the margin are usually lost or completely neglected.
Here are the 4 Essential Elements for Balanced Teamwork
T = THINK
This is one of the most difficult components of team balance. In a society that promotes action and results, slowing down to dive into long term technique can feel like ‘inaction’ with teams wanting to rapidly ‘check it off the list’. It is important that the team address these critical questions to develop the highest quality methods.
- What is our general vision/objective?
- What information do we have with us currently?
- What additional details do we need to consider in the aspects of the objective? Groups like to bypass this step and move forward quickly without all the details.
- What assumptions may restrict our thinking? Often understanding overall objectives and possibilities are based upon inaccurate assumptions. Information is incomplete as well as quickly reviewed. Team members intend to move into activity. What did the team members assume that may have moved them ahead in the wrong direction by moving too rapidly?
- What is your group potential or target? What are you aiming for across the board? Not just the big number – what else really matters to get them to the goal?
- Encourage your team to slow down a bit and take some time to ‘THINK’.
E = ENGAGE
Currently, the team is ready to jump into brainstorming. This is where suggestions are heard, possibilities are analyzed, and the promotion of the ‘ideal alternative’ is pursued. It is important that all team members are contributing to this process so that the team does not miss out the opportunities. Often we see that the quieter participants of a team will have the best solution.
- What are feasible alternatives to achieve our goal?
- Have we exhausted the opportunities? Don’t let the pressure of time cut brainstorming short.
- Exactly how should we evaluate each option?
- What is our back-up strategy if the alternative we pursue fails?
A = ACTIVATE
If the ‘T’ and ‘E’ are effective, the ‘A’ should be relatively smooth. The best option has been selected and now the project plan is put into place. Keep in mind the word ‘If’. Many teams choose to jump right into ACTION without all the details, hit the wall surface, wonder what went wrong, and then loop back to THINK or ENGAGE. This trial and error process often leads to a solution, but often at the expense of optimizing results. You run out of time when you have to start the race over.
- What’s the best way to manage your resources?
- How will you manage the process?
- How will you support changes in the plan? Often a team running down will not going to want to slow down and consider a change of plan. But that might be exactly what is needed. Adaptability is important to balanced teamwork.
M = MANAGE
This is where outcomes are measured, areas of process improvement are identified and quality enhancements are managed. Teams often run out of time and don’t enable the MANAGE process. The end result is at the expense of achieving the highest level of efficiency.
- What possibilities are there for process improvement?
- Exactly how will you measure and celebrate milestones? It’s essential to have accomplishments along the way. It keeps the team motivated and tracks even the small successes that lead to the overall objective.
- How will you handle your time so that you stay on track to achieve the objective?
The TEAM balance model is basic yet effective for all sorts of teams. Motivate your team to step back and consider the possibilities that each element of TEAM contributes to the success of the group. Various team members bring unique skills. The best teams understand how each team member thinks and how they interact in the work environment.