Chatting with the many business leaders I meet the talk is always of how they are looking to beat the recession, either through ‘hunkering down’, finding new markets or reducing costs. Nobody can deny the harsh realities that have come with falling demand resulting in approaches that seek to minimise the impact of recessionary conditions on shareholder returns. Sadly too this has been a euphemism for Voluntary Redundancy and operational budget reductions. But what if you could find a way of actually achieving more with less resources?
What strikes me in almost every case is the obvious question “are you getting the most out of how your teams work and how they work together?” The quality of collaboration within a business and between its employees is a rich source of huge efficiency and productivity benefits and we have worked successfully to help organisations untap this potential with staggering results in terms of enhanced productivity, reduced acquisition costs and reduced staff turnover. The starting point is always to business leadership and the simple question:
“If your team were working at its maximum potential, what percentage productivity improvement do you think would be achieved?
The usual answer is somewhere between 20 – 50 percent!
Let’s be clear, I can never fault the commitment and work ethic within the businesses I meet. They are working harder and harder over longer and longer hours. This is not about effort. My challenge is; are they working “Smart”?
The opportunity is to harness the power of teamwork and the quality of collaboration within an organisation. In our studies of high performing organisations the first common thread is the realisation that high performing teams are continually nurtured rather than “built”. Nurturing is seen as a continuous process where the elements of great team work are husbanded.
Individuals in high performing organisations can always answer 5 key questions:
1. What is my role?
2. What am I getting for my efforts?
3. What difference does my job make?
4. How am I doing?
5. How do I fit into the bigger picture?
What would be the impact on team performance if every member of your staff could accurately answer each of these questions? Simple questions that when answered knowingly by engaged team members can create staggering results.
OK, let’s say that your employees pass the top five test .. what is next?
A recent study by Google recognised that the teams that socialised together were more productive. They foster more opportunities for employees to interact and build understanding of peoples’ roles and challenges i.e. they use their awareness of the 5 questions (for themselves and their colleagues) to the benefit of the organisation.
The bottom line of this is the basic human condition of “if we spend time together we will build more understanding.” The more we understand, the higher is the potential of giving each other greater support and more effective challenge. So are we saying that we should all go to the pub and all will be fine? Not exactly…I am suggesting you challenge how you foster and improve the levels of trust between individuals within teams and between teams within your organisation. To this end; what is your continuous plan to develop the quality of collaboration within your organisation?
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