How to help your team grow and succeed

Every organisation consists of teams. Every team consists of individuals. Every individual brings all of themselves to work, even if they try not to. We all bring along healthy and unhealthy patterns in our behaviour. An unhealthy pattern is something that is unknown, unconscious and unchosen - even for and by ourselves. When you are a management team, your team patterns will determine the success of your business. It will not be your strategy, it will be your team dynamic. Unfortunately, it is not math. Your team dynamic is not fixed, but it can be influenced. 

(Top)team effectiveness

An effective team can deliver against all odds. In an effective team, team members come together, strive towards the same goal and thrive while moving forward. Every individual is unique and brings something valuable to the table. From a functional perspective, you might have all areas covered. The human behind the professional is better not ignored. It is the right mix of people and their behaviour that brings out the best in a team. Being aware how everyone is focused on today vs. tomorrow, gets excited about individual vs. collective gain, and chooses for a fixed vs. a growth mindset will be very insightful for you and your team members. The reasons behind these choices are the most meaningful and require a conscious effort to understand. The technique used is a combination of deep structured interviewing to ladder down and coaching to ladder up. It is also possible to use MBTI® as an instrument. The best results are seen in teams where members share their own insights with each other, and where effectiveness and behaviour become regular topics on the team agenda.

Team journey facilitation

To become an effective team requires work. Work to become more aware, both of your own mindset and beliefs and also of your colleagues. Openness to learn, listen and cooperate is a key element for every team to make progress and a skillset that needs to be trained. There are no rights or wrongs in behaviour. However there is effective and ineffective behaviour in the setting of a team. The best choice is therefore a conscious one. Supported by more awareness, people can start to listen, understand each other and engage in a more effective way. It is not a given to be aware and open. Especially in top teams there is often a belief that there is a lot to lose by sharing how you feel and letting others come to close. Therefore overinflation of the ego is likely to prevail in those teams. It is a well understood protection mechanism. At the same time it also shields the potential. It helps to set-up a conscious journey around team learning, often to be combined with strategy definition or transformation design, where team members create a common language and habits to address mindset and behaviour. 

Workshop it

Some teams choose to dedicate significant time for their team journey and team learning. Other teams prefer to spend most time on the content of the task, and add-in some team feedback in whatever shape or form. No matter the preference, all of this can be 'workshopped'. Choose for a team learning focused workshop or a session heavy on the task at hand with some balcony moments when things get stuck. As a experienced professional with a background as a consultant, facilitator and business executive, I can add value for your team in any set-up or timeframe. With the sole purpose to help your team thrive and deliver in the most effective and meaningful way. The way I like to operate is to sit down with every team member before we enter a workshop, a team learning or a team journey. It allows me to listen and understand, and it allows people to share what they have to say. Everyone has something to say, especially when it comes to the team. It is such a crucial group of people for every individual. Every team deserves to thrive, as every individual deserves to grow. There is always more potential. 

Examples of team facilitation

Team effectiveness - MBTI based

Teams are different. Some teams value an open conversation with not too much theory and structure. Sharing and listening is already enough to make a next step in team dynamics. Other teams benefit when there is a language used that is not directly about them and/or prefer an approach that has a foundation in a more commonly used and accepted instrument. MBTI┬« can be used as an instrument to learn more about your own preferences and those of others. Preferences that are reflected in behaviour, both in times where the sailing is smooth and when there is more pressure and head wind. Two half day workshops where done. The first was around the theory behind MBTI and getting to know your own individual type and preferences. We looked at the MBTI dominant profile in the team, including the strengths and pitfalls of such profile. We explored how everyone contributes to the team and the dynamics, especially given the team profile. During the second workshop, we discussed what happens to the individual types under stress, how stress is triggered and what happens. We looked back at situations that now made more sense. Also the dominant profile in the team changes under stress. Being aware of this allows for change. We agreed how everyone can help the team, also when pressure is on. 

Workshop - Transform the initiative

In digital organisations, new initiatives are often started by people that go beyond their function titles and tasks. In this case, it was a group of young people trying to actively bring together other (young) people to learn and invest in themselves. Great things were already done: breaking down silo events, college tours. There were many more ideas, but the team members lost their motivation. In an intense 2 hour workshop we got to the core of the issue and revamped the whole initiative. The end products of the workshop included a roadmap with a change of the initiative name, a new mission statement, 3 focus areas and a more interactive approach with the wider organisation. Everyone could take ownership of elements in the roadmap to make it a win-win for their own development. However, the most valuable outcome of the session were individual mindset shifts. A brave decision was made by one team member, as this initiative no longer felt 'for her'. She continued to participate in events, but no longer lead the initiative. The rest of the team found back their motivation to organise events and contribute to initiatives for everyone in the company, not only for the 'youngsters'. The feedback and appreciation from other people in the organisation were beyond the team's own expectations. 

Team journey - Get it done 

In the life cycle of every team there is complacency. The team is not necessary stuck in terms of dynamics, but delivery patterns are stuck, performance is not enough, excitement is low. This team had to be the frontrunner in a companywide digital transformation emphasising work principles like fast, fluid, flexible. That required a big change. The team had no strategy, no north star, there was no thought leadership. We started with the creation of an exciting north star in a workshop setting. We connected it back to the strategy of the company and cascaded it to everyone's added value, expertise and personal goals. Everyone saw how they mattered, which is exciting in itself. We decided on the 3-5 strategies for the year, people and mini-teams had natural ownership of these specific work streams and turned them into roadmaps (3/6/9/12 months). As a team we decided on the 3-5 priorities for the coming three months - 'what do we want to be known for in 3 months?' allowing the team to distinguish between must haves and nice to haves. We changed our modus operandi accordingly with weekly stand-ups around end products & progress, every two weeks a team meeting on a content topic connected to the roadmap, and every three months a full day solely focused on (team) learning. The team became a delivery machine with high engagement, excitement & performance.  Team members were able to apply their new approach in the teams they supported in the business. The excitement contributed to the companywide transformation. 

Team learning - 'Reflect' to go on

During the delivery on an initiative where different disciplines had to work together, the team got stuck. New ways of approaching the task didn't work. Everyone in the team had strong emotions with regard to the team(work), not the task. In a team learning which we called 'reflect' (deliberately not 'retro' to stay away from the content), we moved along different questions to reflect on the past, the future, the team, the individuals in the team, the 'triggers & blockers' and the 'practices to go & grow'. From 'where are we now' in a static set-up to 'where do you want to go' in a more flowing exercise. In the triggers & blockers exercise we added a more conceptual iceberg exercise to keep it safe. The team practices to go & grow were created together. It took 4 hours to make a new start. We concluded the journey of this team with a 'how to take this forward' session in which we trained the team members in approach, mindset and techniques to take forward this type of team intervention. Interestingly, teams in the wider company hardly get stuck anymore on team dynamics cause more and more people got 'trained' in this approach. It has become part of the culture to 'Reflect'. 'Retro's' are also used, and people created a hybrid 'Reftro'. Always support and encourage people that add their own twist. There are limitless ways to do it. It is about the philosophy behind it, it is not a policy. The biggest sign that there is a cultural transformation taking place is when people take what has worked for them, make it their own and pass it forward.