Unleashing The True Potential Of Teamwork

Cherian Kuruvila, CEO & Business Mentor, CNC Transcend Management Services With over 30 years in Sales and Marketing, Cherian has been helping business and leaders across SMEs and Corporates to evolve to the next level of business and leadership

The French team that won the worldcup demonstrated that having one or two superstars do not necessarily get you across the finish line in the rough and tumble of high intensity sporting or business games. Remember these superstars below? Did their teams win or even make it to the final hurdle? If not why not? Based on my three decades of experiences as a corporate leader,the last eight years I have been working very closely with over 40 organisations and a couple of 100 leaders as a Mentor, Coach and facilitator. I often come across gaping gaps in the way organisations often lose their way when it comes to unleashing the full power of their teams. And I am not just talking entrepreneurs, but about mid & large corporate also.

Through this writeup, I am sharing ten tips which I believe can help mid & senior leaders to make a difference
1. Making people in your team buy into the vision - In many cases, it's quite likely over half the employees would vaguely recall the vision of the organization shared when they joined or see it on some notice board. The Vision is not meant to be a CEO agenda only. There is an interesting quote "The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet"- Theodore M.Hesburgh. How do you energise a team if they are not clear where the organisation is headed and how its changing lives or improving efficiency or value adding to the cause?

2. Building excitement about how each individual can contribute towards achieving the goal – Good leaders challenge,excite and energise their teams, average leaders give directions and expect them to just do their "work". That's what they are paid for? No second guesses for who succeeds more consistently.

3. Building a performance culture where every team member knows exactly what the role expectations and performance metrics and measurements are– So very often,this is a grey area and builds scope for people to take cover or point fingers when things go wrong and say things like – oh I thought he was to do it! !I am not clear about my role!!And performance metrics? That’s for Appraisals only once a year. Management needs it and HR follows up with team leaders to adhere to the schedule, more than focus on it as a development tool. These are times when process adherence overrides without the benefits being explained to team members. There are times when the process exists only on paper.

4. Setting very high standards with little leeway for excuses or passing the buck- We all know what does not
get measured does not get improved. When the first three points get done well and measurements are in place,work gets so much more transparent and it’s so much less of an effort to set much higher challenges or targets or task deadlines and reduce the tendency to blame others for all their problems. Root causes are mostly internal and teams need to admit it and initiate corrective actions.

5.Involving the team in evolving a solution focused approach– A "Will do" attitude - How often in a Top down, hierarchical structure do we hear? But boss this is a problem, this cannot happen, we need resources, we need budgets, "they "are not supporting us, management is dreaming, let them do it.(sounds familiar ?). I find the key is two words in this point - Involving the team and solution focused approach. The moment good leaders do these two well the solutions emerge from the deep well of knowledge and experiences of the team members themselves. Then it's no more a one man organization but a larger play of intellect and ideas which generate enthusiasm and energy and solutions to the most complex problems. No more - We will try, we will do our best, hopefully - all self defeating words.

It's no more a one man organization but a larger play of intellect and ideas which generate enthusiasm and energy and solutions to the most complex problems

6. Giving them the Empowerment and Tools to succeed - Leaders need to be secure enough to be happy to delegate and let go of "perceived power" and authority. This is where I find so many teams stumble, since so many weak leaders want to take credit and are worried,if their juniors can handle the responsibilities without goofing up or getting the credit for a good job. I used to personally love delegation since that gave the leaders down the line a sense of responsibility, of knowing management trusts them and will not hang them if they do commit a mistake once or twice! And I preach this day in and day out since I have experienced the power of empowering people.

7. Committing quality Management time to review,support and coach the teams and be a part of their highs and lows – This is yet another area where Management is often too busy attending so many meetings that they do not have the time to review in detail. More often reviews become personality driven based on likes and dislikes – tougher questions and comments for people one does not like and easier passage for the favourites. Takes away the objectivity of the review exercise which should much rather focuses on the fundamentals and on data and analytics to drive decisions. At the end the review must lead to decisions and progress and better business results.

8. Ensuring consistent HR policies and practices without any perceived favouritism or compromises for select individuals– The key word here is consistency and perceived favouritism. The majority of leaders fall into the trap of surrounding themselves with people who think like them and make them feel like heroes and this does nothing to remove the stain of perceived favouritism. And a boss who is not seen as fair and unbiased has lost half the battle of winning all his troops over. As simple as that!

9. Treating all employees with humility and respect and engaging families to make them all proud of being a part of a winning mission. Here is another area which when done genuinely, led by the leader and not just as part of an HR agenda can so closely bind employees and the families who in turn play such a vital role in employees not leaving so easily. A great retention tool, which in turn increases the wealth of experience of the team and belief in the organization which in turn makes it a winning team

10. Realising that people work more passionately for their immediate leaders when they feel recognized and wanted.More and more employees workless and less for organisations or brands which may have grand visions and policies but lose the connect and the plot on employee engagement and motivation. It is no wonder that even the largest brands face high attrition levels largely because of the missing personal touch or connect. And recognizing individuals for any stand out performance and rewarding them in public hardly cost the earth but have a positive effect and also bring in a competitive spirit with the teams.