All blogs of type Thoughts From The Field
Recently, while I was working with a long-time client, I was struck by the candor and intensity with which two of the teammates were interacting. Over a year ago, when our work together was still in its infancy, things were radically different (tense and strained are a couple of descriptors that come to mind). In fact, Bill, the head of a major division of this organization, and one of his peers, Samantha, were close to a breaking point. Their different communication and decision-making styles had caused such friction and tension that they had lost respect and trust for one another.
Virtually every executive team faces the important hurdle of running effective strategic meetings. These meetings, where teams discuss critical issues affecting long-term success, can serve as important inflection points for a team to advance the organization's goals - or be seen as a huge waste of time that erodes the credibility of the leadership. It all depends on how well they are executed.
There is no denying that virtual teams are different. Virtual teams change how people communicate, collaborate, establish authority and rules, and manage their day-to-day work. They have all the challenges of traditional teams - in other words, they often display many of the five dysfunctions - with the added complexity of working across time and distance and a dependence on technology to interact.
When my daughter was five, she taught me an important lesson about leadership communication. One summer day, we went out sailing and she brought along a toy flute. After playing with it for a while, she said, "Daddy, guess what song I am playing."
What do you do when you get that familiar pit in your stomach, as you're about to meet with someone you've been working with integrating into your team because you just know it's not going to work out? You've probably even known it for a while.
"What do you think of my new haircut?"
I stared at my friend blankly. My mind raced. How do I respond? Does he really want my opinion? Should I just put it out there and tell him that I'm pretty sure the mullet combined with a faux-hawk look never really took off?
I recently read a headline in the business section of a newspaper that announced how a large organization had agreed to a six-year, $29M plan to rollout a new computer system. It made me wonder what would happen if companies made similar commitments to rolling out organizational health. To do so would cost millions less and, although there wouldn’t necessarily be a fixed length of time, the return on investment wouldn’t fall victim to obsolescence, either.
One of the many benefits of having a healthy organization is that decision-making becomes more focused as leaders are able to use the elements of organizational clarity to guide their discussions and, ultimately, their decisions.
Trust on teams is a measure of the quality of the relationships between team members. It is the glue that holds the team together. Trusting teams create an environment where it is safe to admit weaknesses, ask others for help, share ideas and opinions, and offer feedback to colleagues without fear of being judged or rejected. Without trust teams often disintegrate into some predictable dysfunctional behaviors.
In making leadership teams more cohesive and organizations healthier, one of the most powerful yet simple things we do as Table Group consultants is help teams improve their meetings. After all, meetings are the playing field of business. To build a strong team and to make great decisions, teams, like athletes, must practice consistently — they must have regular meetings that are focused and compelling.