Updated: Aug 14, 2019
Having invested the majority of my career in headhunting - I have seen a very wide spectrum from the abysmal to the truly stellar when it comes to team cohesion and performance!
I have no doubt that we have all been subjected to a cringe inducing team building exercise at some stage, and on the flip-side I hope there are also some great examples of jobs or projects in which the people we worked alongside were people we trusted, respected, liked, and people we strived to deliver our best work for.
The world of work these days is a complex one to say the least! - With big multi-national corporations swelling to enormous sizes, absorbing startups as they grow, and asserting huge power and influence locally, nationally and internationally - they have economies of scale that are very hard to compete with.
These multi-nationals evolve structurally and culturally, and as a result employees are forced to climb the greasy pole, or potentially fear being managed out of the business.
Burnout is more and more common, anxiety levels are rising, and mental health in the workplace is quite rightly getting increasing airtime.
Pleasingly there is a continuing trend towards 'career lattices' as opposed to ladders. Travelling sabbaticals and working sabbaticals are more common, the gig economy shows no sign of slowing its growth, and the startup sphere is more vibrant than ever before.
With more and more people challenging corporate bureaucracy and stifling culture - I've spent some time reflecting on and researching the key ingredients contributing to job satisfaction, and the different approaches to fostering high performing teams.
If you have a spare minute - try grading your current job or project on the 6 measures below:
I'm a long time admirer of the Escape the City proposition and brand ethos, and the above is a useful sense check tool - enabling anyone to grade their current position, and decide on whether your energy is being wisely invested. In addition I would suggest that without a strong core team - most of the above measures will score fairly poorly.
Much has been written about the importance of leadership in business, and in my opinion - it is imperative that the leader communicates the vision, and therefore direction for the team. They must be the "head" that enables the body to perform!
(*It is worth also clarifying the distinction between leadership and exercising bureaucratic power! https://hbr.org/2013/05/how-to-lead-when-youre-not-in)
The below is a short clip from the film, 'Any Given Sunday' - a stirring anecdotal reminder of what it can feel like to have an inspiring boss, and to do your very best for the team's success:
Google have an incredible brand pull, and have managed to avoid many of the pitfalls of a large corporate. They spent 2 Years Studying 180 Teams. The Most Successful Ones Shared These 5 Traits.
All five traits have one thing in common: all team members are active participants and share common goals. These traits can apply to a sports team, corporate team a startup team or any other team.
1. Dependability. Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.
2. Structure and clarity. High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.
3. Meaning. The work has personal significance to each member.
4. Impact. The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.
5. Psychological Safety.
Additional examples illustrating highly advanced methods to creating cohesion in teams include:
- Special Forces - with soldiers putting their lives in the hands of others, precision in the detail, and super-drilled protocols in communication.
- All Blacks Rugby team are renowned for their team ethic, and their success is testament to that.
- Rowing - reference Ben Hunt-Davis’s journey to Olympic gold in the men’s Rowing Eight at Sydney 2000, the excellent book, 'Will It Make The Boat Go Faster' . In the book - he discusses what won them the race. Not just the combination of individual elements, but the way in which those elements were made to work together.
Finally - the concept of "teaming" was new to me until fairly recently. I'd highly recommend watching this short TED talk from Amy Edmondson. She offers some superb takeaways - to unlock potential and get the best out of yourself and your team(s).
At ReBoot we are working with a range of progressive business leaders who are breaking the mould when it comes to company culture and driving performance through their people.
Lifting best practice from GB Sport and sports psychology techniques - we run team effectiveness development days and personal leadership progression programmes.
If you would describe yourself as a corporate rebel or a changemaker - we'd love to hear from you - to share our learnings, spead the message, or support you on your journey.