Let’s break down that buzzword ‘high-performance.’
It’s not about fielding a team of elite Olympic level athletes, MENSA brained economists, or grizzly bear-knuckled fighters.
A high performance team in the work world nails 4 things.
1) Critical thinking and problem-solving
4) Creativity and innovation
That’s all! That’s all? The American Management Association’s 2010 Critical Skills Survey, 2,115 managers and executives (across a spectrum of industries) detailed the critical skills teams really need to succeed. These four skills were the winners.
Critical thinking and problem-solving: Galvanizing collective knowledge to approach a challenge from diverse angles, digging for new insight and committing to finding solutions.
Communication: Taking full responsibility for clarity in every communication, at every level. No vagueness and no avoidance – no passive-aggressive behavior and no breakdowns because someone was unclear or failed to “let others know.”
Collaboration: Actively seeking opportunities to create continuous, effective coordinated action; bringing a mood of partnership and shared cooperative effort to every process.
Creativity and Innovation: Welcoming challenges as innovation windows: turning the same-ol’ inside-out and upside-down to discover what else is possible.
Check it out – you’ve probably seen this go down:
Mary’s been on the team for 5 years as quality control (QC) for the sales team’s contracts. Mary’s style is to reject contracts simply for having typos or grammar errors, sending them back as “rejected” without further info or explanation, resulting in frustration and delays in the sales process. Mary’s attitude is, “Hey, it’s the job I was hired to do; they need to get it right.” It’s clear that Mary’s lack of critical skills – communication, collaboration and innovation – is negatively impacting the team. Ignore this behavior, and watch it continue to drag down the team’s performance.
Sue’s new to the team. She’s bright, has lots of ideas and wants to be sure leadership really knows it. In meetings, she talks over others, butts in and is generally the loudest voice in the room. Her ideas and perspectives have merit, yet…
You see where this is going. Sue clearly needs to develop critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills.
Janice is loyal – been with the company for ten years. In her mind, she’s seen it all and knows what works. She avoids Mary (literally) and sidesteps QC whenever possible – just trying to get the deal signed. Her response to Sue (when she can get a word in), is “Yeah, we tried that already.” Janice’s engagement has been dropping for years now – you can see why. Her collaboration, problem solving, and communication skills need serious help.
In fact, many teams lack the necessary skills and drive – they need an energizing shift to get to high performance.
So how do you get there? You start by investing in intelligently customized, masterfully facilitated, kinesthetic training.
These four skills cannot be hardwired though sitting and talking, or trust falls and fluffy fun. To lock-in and sustain the learning, training must be intelligently kinesthetic. To change behavior and build real and lasting skills, carefully designed simulation-based processes are a must and they work. You can find simulation ideas here.
High performers like athletes, musicians, entertainers, salespeople, all invest time in developing their skills. A high performance team requires the same: team building and development. Every team can achieve high performance, it’s just a matter of training.
With a kinesthetic approach to developing the 4 Top Skills as the core of your team development program, you will go from good to outrageous.
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