By Michael Mink
A recent workplace survey shows only 14% of leaders are completely satisfied with their ability to collaborate and make decisions as part of a team.</P.
That’s from Adrian Gostick, who with Chester Elton wrote: “The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance.”
The authors are co-founders of The Culture Works, a training firm. They drew from their database of more than 850,000 employee surveys to identify the traits of today’s best team leaders. Up to 80% of employees’ days are spent working in teams in the average company, they’ve found.
Former NBA All-Star center Mark Eaton, the author of “The Four Commitments of a Winning Team,” says “the term ‘team’ is used in virtually every business, but what does it really mean? And how do I better my team and become an All-Star performer?”
Eaton is a motivational speaker who advises corporations about teamwork. He defines it as “a group of people who commit to each other.”
Tips on creating winning teamwork:
Autonomy is one of the stronger motivators for baby boomers and Gen X workers, but younger colleagues rank it near the bottom, Gostick says.
Younger workers want coaching and mentoring about their careers, he adds. For millennials, “recognition from their bosses and co-workers is three times more important than it is for older workers.”
Know your job.
“You need to narrow your focus and intensify it,” Eaton said. “Focus on your core skill set.”
By doing so, you become most valuable to your team.
Legendary NBA center Wilt Chamberlain counseled a pre-NBA Eaton to focus on defense and protecting the basket. That was “one task that I could be great at,” Eaton realized.
Eaton did not play much in college. But he “continued to inquire what I could do better,” he said. “My coach gave me a list of things, and I did them every day.”
It paid off a year later. Eaton’s skills improved. And an NBA coach who watched him work out drafted him.
“How clear are you about other people’s priorities, and how well do you execute their requests?” Eaton asks. It’s all part of being a good teammate.
Feeling comfortable to express one’s views, taking smart risks, and being given roughly equal time to speak up are hallmarks of today’s best teams, Gostick says.
“The most innovative teams we studied have regular, intense debates,” he said. “As long as discussions are respectful, and everyone gets the chance to contribute equally, most people thrive on this kind of debate — finding it important to getting to the route of problems and working out solutions.”
Set ground rules.
When it comes to managing robust debate within teams, Gostick and Elton recommend these:
- Challenge the position not the person. Don’t make it personal.
- Come to the debate ready to present facts and data, not supposition.
- Debates are opportunities to find the best ideas, be enlightened and learn — not score points.
Make people look good.
When Eaton joined the Utah Jazz, they had a very bad team. “Our coach Frank Layden convinced us to stop fighting with one another and that the individual accolades would show up if we would trust and support each other,” Eaton said. “He said no one cares if you are scoring a lot of points on a losing team. Everyone wants the players from a winning team.”
Eaton said they listened. And the Utah Jazz went from being a losing team of obscure players to a winning one full of NBA All-Stars.
The key is to evaluate your own ability to make others shine. “How focused are you on making the people you work with look good on a scale of 1 to 10?” Eaton asks. “How could you improve that number?”
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