Many companies use sports analogies to explain High Performing Teams because the start point, the end point the deadline or imperative are all very clear and almost all sports need a team of people to deliver success. Team sports such as football or rugby are obvious but even ostensibly solo sports require a support team to get the player, driver or athlete into the best possible position to win and of course winning is celebrated very tangibly, the result is banked and the individual or the team can move on to the next challenge.
Sports analogies, although very tangible, are difficult to translate into the business world, often people leave a course or lecture inspired but bereft of how they can actually replicate this in the business world, after all every task, every day is potentially a new game with new players and new or no rules.
The objective of this post is to take what you can see being achieved in the world of sport and to explain the ingredients and recipe for creating a HyperTeam anytime you need one. So that’s it, the last mention of ‘sport’ in this post!
High Performing Teams – HyperTeams
We have all heard and read about High Performing Teams and I expect that many of you will have been part of one and some of you may have led one. The experience will be deeply embedded in your memory and very likely when you look back or recount a story from that time it will bring a smile to your face years later. Also the people in the team will have formed some sort of bond, the shared experience creates a linkage that transcends companies and future career moves.
The thing is, since we know the power of High Performing Teams why are they so rare, why is it so difficult to replicate the hyper-drive effect you get when such a team is focussed and underway? Is there some alchemy, some secret recipe to follow where if one ingredient is left out the team doesn’t break through into being truly hyper?
The 8 Ingredients you need to make a HyperTeam
Firstly you can’t expect to wave a magic wand and get it to work on any team. There are some conditions that need to be just right for the HyperTeam to appear.
- Cohesion: There needs to be a task that can only be performed by a team where each member has an area of expertise, a piece of the puzzle.
- “I” in Team: The common purpose needs to offer fulfilment and recognition for each team member as an individual, they need to feel their worth.
- Benefits: You need to create a clear picture of the benefits of the task, something that energises and makes the team pull together so that the end game is greater than the parts.
- Urgency: There needs to be a fixed and clear imperative beyond which success is impossible, an immovable date, like the millennium or the Olympics.
- Novel: There needs to be something new in the task, something untried, something novel, nothing great is ever accomplished by doing it the ‘same old way’.
- Route Planning: The destination needs to be very focussed and clear, people have to know where they are going and where they are on the journey, and they all need to be bought in.
- Start Point: Clearly articulating the start point is as important as the goal, if you are starting with a “clean sheet” then don’t be afraid to say it!
- Success: There needs to be a clear definition of success, not only ‘what done looks like’ but ‘what outstanding looks like’ and there needs to be a plan for celebrating success.
The Recipe for Creating a HyperTeam
So you see the need for a HyperTeam and you want to create one. Above I have listed only the ingredients but on their own they only provide insight not a beneficial outcome.
What you are looking for is the steps to routinely create this level of performance, something like this:
- Start with a clear idea of the benefits of the task, this will help support the business case that will inevitably be required for the work to be financed.
- Be brutally realistic about your starting point, don’t assume you can build on some previous work if you really wouldn’t bet your life on it.
- Identify your potential team members and talk to them as a group or individually, stir in the idea, the benefits, the start point and the imperative. Warm gently and see what starts to crystallise from the candidate team members. Carefully select only the best team members then discard the dissenters.
- Put your selected team members into a melting pot with the benefits and let them determine ‘what success looks like’ to deliver those benefits.
- Let them know that although they are in the melting pot, their individual attributes will be clearly discernible in the final outcome and that novel solutions are welcome.
- Let them plan the route from start to finish together so that they are all marinaded in it and are able to give an elevator pitch to anyone.
- Then pour the budget into the pot and whisk in a good Project Manager to manage the budget, the timescales, the outcome and report progress along the way.
- Put the lid on and simmer over a gentle heat carefully monitoring progress and managing any issues for the duration of the plan.
- Serve the solution and savour the benefits
- Pop the cork on the champagne and celebrate!
Like every dish, the first time you make it it might not turn out completely right, but with practice you should be able to create the conditions for HyperTeams, of course the level of success will depend on the quality of the ingredients and your skill as a leader!