Please raise your hand if your team is not performing to it's potential. Could employee engagement be improved or teamwork be better? Are there people in your team who need to improve their communication skills?
Many teams with great people are not reaching their potential simply because they are not focussing on the right things. There are many examples of teams with comprehensive leadership programs, annual strategic planning sessions and regular team building events, yet they still can't seem to create the team culture they want or get the results they need.
Well here's the good news. Creating an Exceptional Team doesn't have to be that daunting. By focussing on a few high-impact areas of team development you will maximise your return-on-investment of time, energy and resources and lift the performance levels of your team.
Firstly, let's determine how well your team is performing.
Consider this Team Performance Scale.
At what level of performance would you say your team is performing to?
To get a more accurate rating take our free online 7 Step Team Potential Assessment.
Archimedes once said: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world."
I've paraphrased this quote for team leaders by saying: "Use the right levers and a fulcrum of positive mindsets on which to place them and you shall lift your team."
In the context of leading teams, the 'levers' refer to the focus areas for team development. Too many teams are missing levers, using the wrong ones or trying to use them without a fulcrum of positive mindsets.
After 30+ years experience in managing, leading and consulting to teams, my research has identified 7 key levers and 1 key mindset essential for the development of high performing teams. I have incorporated these into the Exceptional Teams Model. I think Archimedes would like it!
You can download a copy of the model here.
Now, let's explore the 7 High Impact Levers and how they can lift your team performance to achieve the 3 Key Outcomes of an Exceptional Team:
High performing people
7 Steps to Take Your Team from Good to Great to Exceptional
Step 1. Develop Engaging Leaders
Your first step towards building an exceptional team is to develop the leadership capability of your managers. Exceptional Teams have Engaging Leaders who are able to connect with their people and lead, influence, manage and motivate them towards desired goals and objectives. As the old Greek saying goes, "A fish rots from the head first", and this is also the case when it comes to teams. An Exceptional Team ‘thrives from the head first’ with managers who demonstrate Engaging Leadership.
How engaging and influential are your managers?
Learn how to develop Engaging Leaders at the Faculty of Leadership
Step 2. Develop a Crystal Clear Strategy
As well as developing our managers ability to lead and motivate others we need them to be very clear about team goals, objectives and behavioural expectations. Exceptional Teams are ‘crystal clear’ about: where their team is headed (vision and mission); behavioural and performance expectations (values and goals); how they will measure progress of team members and the team as a whole (personal and team KPIs); and how they will monitor results (regular team and personal performance feedback). Exceptional Teams not only have a great strategy, they over-communicate it so that everyone is crystal clear about their roles, goals and expectations.
How clear and well-communicated is your strategy?
Learn how to develop a Crystal Clear Strategy at the Faculty of Strategy
Step 3. Develop Positive Productive People
It could be argued that this step is the most important of all. After all, you can have excellent leaders and an outstanding strategy, but without positive, productive people your plans won't be realised. Exceptional Teams have positive, productive people who don’t rely on extrinsic rewards or micro-management to do their job. They have a sense of urgency and have a ‘can-do’ attitude. These characteristics see them focussing on solutions rather than problems. Positive Productive People have good reserves of physical and mental energy, and are are efficient, aspirational and optimistic. They are, of course, Lifters and bring positive energy to a team environment.
How positive and productive are your people?
Learn how to develop Positive Productive People at the Faculty of Productivity
Step 4. Develop Quality Team Relationships
In their research 'Simply the Best Workplaces in Australia', Hull and Read determined that the number 1 key driver of an excellent workplace (without exception) was Quality Team Relationships. People in Exceptional Teams get along well and communicate effectively with each other. They develop and maintain quality communication and proactively promote positive relationships in the team. ‘Quality Relationships’ is incorporated into their set of values, and people are encouraged and enabled to develop self-awareness, empathy, communication skills and trust with one another.
How would you rate the quality of your team relationships?
Learn how to develop Quality Team Relationships at the Faculty of Relationships
Step 5. Develop Highly Engaged Employees
Step number 3 highlights the need for positive, productive people in teams, however, a positive attitude alone is not enough. We also need our people to embrace and engage with the work that they do. Exceptional Teams are full of people who love their job. They find their work stimulating and a challenge that enables them to achieve pre-determined goals. People recognise that what they do makes a positive difference and feel acknowledged for their contribution to the success of the team. Highly engaged employees show initiative, take pride in their work, enjoy what they do and feel they are contributing to and making progress towards a higher ideal.
How engaged in their work are your employees?
Learn how to develop Highly Engaged Employees at the Faculty of Engagement
Step 6. Develop Excellent Teamwork
It was Aristotle who once said "The whole is greater that the sum of it's parts", and this quote can be defined with one word - Synergy (also Greek). Ancient Greeks recognised the importance of teamwork to get results. Exceptional Teams are efficient and effective because people work together well. There is also a strong sense of community and uniqueness that makes people feel they belong to a ‘tribe’. Exceptional Teams engender a sense of belonging, trust and mutual respect and a collective commitment to team goals, or as the 3 (or 4) Musketeers would say, have an attitude of 'All for one and one for all!'
How well do your people work together as a team?
Learn how to develop Excellent Teamwork at the Faculty of Teamwork
Step 7. Develop an Uplifting Team Culture
Zig Ziglar once said something along the lines of "Motivation is like hygiene, if you don't do it every day it doesn't work." In many ways, developing an Exceptional Team Culture is the same. Teams need to develop an ongoing process of maintenance and renewal to keep people fresh, vibrant and motivated. Exceptional Teams have systems and processes that promote and enable an Uplifting Culture where people ‘lift’ each other with their thoughts, words, standards and actions. You can feel the positive energy when you enter a workplace with a 'Lift Culture', and it's this feeling that attracts and retains great people and enables outstanding results.
Developing a Lift Mindset - The Fulcrum of The Exceptional Teams Model
A key part of developing an Uplifting Team Culture is to establish the Fulcrum of the Exceptional Teams Model - a Lift Mindset.
I'm a Lifter!
When your thoughts, words and actions lift others
To explain further, there are 3 types of people in teams.
Draggers have a negative influence on team cultures. They drag down the spirits, actions and achievements of those around them through verbal and non verbal negativity, low standards of work and poor behaviour.
GoMo stands for Going through the Motions. GoMo's do what they have to, but have low energy levels and take little pride in their work. They do their job but rarely show initiative or put in the extra effort.
Lifters lift others with their positive energy and enthusiasm. They have a positive influence on team cultures because they lift the spirits, actions and achievements of those around them through their thoughts, words, high standards and positive action.
|What percentage of Draggers, GoMos and Lifters does your team have?|
3 Ways to Promote the Lift Mindset
1. Communicate the Lift Mindset - 'I'm a Lifter!'
Teach people the difference between Draggers, Gomos and Lifters
Encourage self-awareness of Drag, GoMo and Lift behaviour
Reward and recognise Lift behaviour, call out Drag behaviour
2. Promote and Enable the 4 Laws of a Lift Culture
Lift your Thoughts
Lift your Words
Lift your Standards
Lift your Actions
3. Recalibrate Draggers and GoMos
Lift cultures don't condemn, judge or put down Draggers or GoMo's as there are often external factors causing these mindsets. In fact, management or organisational issues may be contributing factors. Lifters do their best to support Draggers or GoMo's by demonstrating empathy, giving them feedback in a respectful way, providing counselling and/or training to improve their performance and by trying to lift their spirits where possible.
In 'Good to Great' Jim Collins talks about 'getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off it.' If Draggers and GoMo's cannot be lifted 'above the line' of satisfactory behaviour or performance they need to 'get off the bus.'
How uplifting is your team culture?
Learn how to develop an Uplifting Team Culture at the Faculty of Culture
The Exceptional Teams Model: Your Blueprint for Team Success
Apply the 7 High Impact Levers
Develop Engaging Leaders
Develop a Crystal Clear Strategy
Develop Positive Productive People
Develop Quality Team Relationships
Develop Highly Engaged Employees
Develop Excellent Teamwork
Develop an Uplifting Team Culture
On a Fulcrum of Positive Mindsets
Communicate the Lift Mindset - 'I'm a Lifter!'
Promote and Enable the 4 Laws of a Lift Culture
Recalibrate Draggers and GoMos
And Build an Exceptional Team with:
High performing people
Ready to get started? Here's a simple way.
First, Take an Assessment
Find out how your team rates on the Team Performance Scale by taking our free 7 Step Team Potential Assessment.
If you prefer you can use the paper based version.
Next, Highlight Areas for Improvement
Take the printed report from your 7 Step Team Potential Assessment
Tick the areas for improvement on the Exceptional Teams Blueprint Planner. These become your Key Focus Areas.
Then, Download Free Resources
Download free tools, tips and tactics for each of your Key Focus Areas.
- Exceptional Teams Resources
Now, Create Your Blueprint
List the strategies, tactics, tools and templates you will use for each of your Key Focus Areas on the Exceptional Teams Blueprint Planner.
Put Your Plan in Into Action
Gradually implement each of your planned actions.
Track Your Progress
Retake the 7 Step Team Potential Assessment every 3/6 months to see how you've improved since the previous assessment.
Zig Ziglar once said: "Motivation is like hygiene. To make it last you have do it everyday."
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What tools, tips and tactics lift your team? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.