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Teamwork: Your Business's Most Untapped Competitive Advantage

Is Your Business Filled With Talented Individuals or Extraordinary Teams?

by Kathy Cooperman

Why is improving teamwork important to your business?
Based on extensive research, there are six big payoffs when team members work together effectively. Highly cohesive teams:

1. Make better, faster decisions.
2. Tap into the skills and ideas of all team members.
3. Avoid wasting time on useless issues (politics, destructive conflict, misunderstandings).
4. Avoid rehashing the same old issues because of a lack of buy-in.
5. Create a competitive advantage by uniting individuals.
6. Have more fun, decreasing costly turnover.

Think about your own career. How many times were you part of a highly cohesive team? If you’re like most people, you felt energized and motivated and enjoyed using your skills, talents and brainpower!

Best-selling author Patrick Lencioni has researched teamwork for decades. He shared a quote from a former client who founded a billion-dollar company: “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

What is a cohesive team?
How do you assess the productivity and effectiveness of your team? Five specific behaviors are essential for being a cohesive, highly effective team.

They:
1. Trust one another.
2. Engage in healthy conflict around ideas.
3. Commit to decisions, knowing their own ideas were listened to and considered.
4. Hold one another accountable.
5. Focus on achieving collective results.
Teams are made up of humans, and people are fallible. Without some type of measurement, you can only guess at the health of your team.

Steps to building a cohesive team
1. Start at the top. When your leadership team models desired behaviors, other teams will follow.
Assess your leadership team on the five essential behaviors. The best system I have found is to use a valid and reliable assessment, “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team,” to measure current day-to-day behaviors. Each team member fills out an anonymous survey answering questions about how the team functions according to the five behaviors.
2. Hold a team meeting (preferably off-site) to review the survey results. An outside facilitator leads a review of the team’s self-scores, which are compared to a norm group. The overall scores are rated “low,” “average” or “high.” The value comes through open discussions that follow. Participants describe specific behaviors that interfere with effectiveness and/or strengthen team cohesiveness.
3. Create action plans to improve team cohesiveness. This is the key to success. Your facilitator is instrumental in supporting this step. Action plans should be realistic and challenging to improve the team’s performance on the highest-priority behaviors.
4. Cascade the assessment on and off-site throughout your organization. Every team will benefit from the experience.
5. Compare the team’s effectiveness 12 to 18 months later. Organizations find tremendous improvement in a comparison report after working through their action plans between assessments.

Kathy Cooperman, an executive coach and leadership expert, is the president and founder of KC Leadership Consulting LLC. For more information, contact her at kathy@kathycooperman.com, www.kathycooperman.com or 720.542.3324.
Submitted 173 days ago
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Categories: categoryLeader Acceleration
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