Enabling Top Performance, Easier Said than Done.
Updated: Apr 19
Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends study reports that only 6% of the 7000 executives interviewed rated themselves very effective at managing cross-functional teams, and yet 53% of them consider such team-based work a “significant” performance driver for their business.
Chances are that this does not come as a big surprise to you. The value of teams in handling large-scale complicated tasks has long been relied upon by companies and the challenge of enabling these teams to top performance is perennial.
This discrepancy between knowing that high performing teams are valuable, however, and not being effective at enabling them is not due to lack of information or good thinking on the subject. There's a lot of expertise out there, many great studies and experts with profound information. Each year there are over 10,000 business management books published and “Team Performance” is number 8 on the most covered topics in the Harvard Business Review the past 40 years.
It seems that the quintessential challenge in trying to improve team performance is knowing how to make the leap between good ideas and good practices.
There are many team performance models, listing several factors and facets that contribute or detract from performance. For example, Google’s Project Aristotle, a 2-year study of 180 of their teams concluded that five factors in how teams worked together dictated higher from lower performance in teams. They are in order of importance: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact. (This NY Times article is an excellent read on the project).
Another familiar example is Allan Drexler’s and David Sibbet’s (WHO ARE THEY) work in both creating and sustaining teams. The Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance® Model consists of 7 “stages” that teams progress through: orientation, trust building, goal clarification, commitment, implementation, high performance, renewal.
Both examples are mentioned to highlight, a) that there is already some profound and deep thinking around teams and performance, and b) that it can be challenging to know what concrete steps to take out of the learnings to address specific team performance issues.
As the Deloitte study shows, it is a hard to know how what exactly to do to positively impact team performance even for experienced leaders. I'll be thinking outlaid about this over the next few weeks, and I hope to be able to share some tangible tactics and strategies with you.