Tactics for Terrific Teams
With change and consumer demands rocketing at breakneck speeds, your teams need to function at their optimal level. Such a management mandate requires more than just directing and delegating. Here are some trending ideas for your teams to reach their pinnacle.
- Hierarchies are History Companies are moving from functional teams and decentralizing This is not only benefiting the bottom line, but the front line as well. Because of the way Al-Qaeda was winning battles in Iraq, military leaders began decentralizing authority and empowering teams.
- Size Matters Because of the necessity of getting products to market more quickly, astute managers understand that smaller teams are more productive. Further, smaller teams communicate with team members better because they know one another better. On a somewhat scientific basis, it has to do with Dunbar’s number.. The theory behind this is that one can only know around 150 people at one time. On a less scientific basis, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, suggests that if there are more than two pizzas for lunch during a team meeting, the team is too large.
- Far-flung Functionality Apple has been doing it for years. Apple’s product development teams bring together far-flung disciplines such as team members from engineering, design, and marketing. Retail might bring clerks, R&D engineers, and operations experts. A health-care team might consist of orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and counselors. Even Hollywood brings together a variety of experts on a movie set. These networks of teams allow an organization to keep better pace with changes. Leading these teams are team leaders who are experts in their field rather than “professional managers.” Upon the completion of a project, each team member returns to his/her “home base.”
- Who Are These People? Know and understand each team member. Be familiar with how each person reacts to the environment, change, and stress. Don’t assume that people understand their own strengths. Even if they do know their strengths, they may take them for granted. Meet regularly with team members and discuss their strengths and develop plans to use them to help the team member, the team, and the organization.
- Real Teams According to Jon Katzenbach, a leader in organizational strategies, real teams are teams possessing three important characteristics:
- Have a high emotional commitment to the team’s goals and purpose.
- Leadership roles can shift between team members based on experience and skills
- Team members hold one another accountable
In an article entitled “How to Design a Team to Deliver Powerful Capabilities,” the authors ask the questions, “Does the way your company manages its strategy influence the effectiveness of your teams? And does the way you manage teams affect your strategy.” The authors think the answer is “Yes.” In fact, they are conducting a study to test this hypothesis. In contacting one of the authors, Rutger von Post, head of the Katzenback Center in North America, the study is still underway at the time of this writing. Further, the authors suggest that it is people working with far-flung functionalities that can put strategy and purpose together to keep companies competitive and successful.
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