Just as an arch provides support for a structure, teams act as the foundation for any successful organization. Individual pieces hold the arch together, uniting to form a design that allows for equal distribution of weight across the entire structure. Authors Richard Spoon and Jan Risher apply this concept in Team Renaissance: The Art, Science & Politics of Great Teams.
Here, Risher discusses some ideas with Managing People at Work's Beth Braccio Hering.
MPAW: What performance characteristic do managers typically have the most problem implementing and why?
Risher: It is what we call 'sharp insights'- a team's capacity to find and act on unique observations that allow a worldview other teams just don't have. It's when a team goes beyond the first right answer and finds a harder-to-reach second right answer. A leader works to create a team capable of absorbing, analyzing and acting on information coming in and staying on top of new sources and types of information that affect the team and its direction.
Why is this important? The best teams have a balance of thinking styles to find and look at data differently. Managers need team members with both conceptual and practical thinking styles.
MPAW: How can a manager start his or her team on the road to better performance?
Risher: They need to ask and act upon these two questions:
1. Do I have the right team members with the right skills?
A part of the conversation is around an honest reflection on the team members' capabilities to be more than a good cultural fit for the team. They have to perform.
2. Are team members in the right roles with clear expectations and accountability?
Sometimes, managers try to build a cohesive team over a performing team. Some of the highest-performing teams don't necessarily like each other, but they work well together.