Teaching Employees

Harvard Business Review is one of my main sources of information when it comes to keeping in touch with organisational trends, and recently they were promoting a new book “HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across”. It wasn’t the book that caught my attention but the extract from it headlined “4 Things Every Team Needs”.

The extract shared that no matter the size of a team, the four things it needs to succeed are:

  1. A meaningful common purpose
  2. Specific performance goals
  3. Commitment to how the work gets done
  4. Mutual accountability

I was intrigued because it was very much in line with what we’ve often communicated to organisations using our Whole Emergenetics (WE) Approach – the conscious effort and strategic practice of embracing the various thinking and behavior preferences, so as to replicate the strengths of a natural diverse team, no matter what preferences we may have in our team.

In short, this was a great example of how we can and should embrace diversity in order to succeed.

A meaningful common purpose
This probably comes most easily to an abstract thinker – someone who likes to think analytically and/or conceptually. When a vision is painted or a mission is set and the whole team agrees with and owns it, it can be a powerful driver that aligns everyone in the same direction. The challenge is to communicate the purpose in a way that is attractive to everyone else. Do we communicate it gently or forcefully, one-to-one or as a group?

Specific performance goals
This usually comes from the domain of the left brainer – someone who prefers analysis and/or structure. Left brainers will tend to be most comfortable looking at specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals, and their job will be to achieve them in a way that appeals to the rest of the team. Do we allow for flexible goals that shift over time, or perhaps not?

Commitment to how the work gets done
This is probably the domain of the concrete thinker – those who prefer to think in terms of processes, schedules and/or who to get involved in the implementation. The challenge for this group will be to translate the vision and purpose into something practical and meaningful. How much autonomy do we allow or should certain things be managed more closely?

Mutual accountability
This is really where communication comes into play. Trust, commitment and accountability cannot be forced. However, what can be managed is the understanding and agreement of how members should work together in that particular team.

Individuals often bring their own style of working and being accountable, and if these differences are not addressed, the good work put in could quickly unravel.

Understanding the different thinking AND behaviours of individuals within a team can help us to establish team norms, which will help individuals work more effectively and happily with one another, and to establish mutual accountability and trust.

Can I be what my team needs?
The quick answer is yes. As long as we consciously put into practice the awareness of how we prefer to think and behave, and also consciously make the effort to embrace the fact that people are different from us, we will be taking the first step to being the person our team needs.

When we face challenges in our efforts to communicate or convey our thoughts or ideas to the rest of our team, before reacting, stop and think – ‘How can I re-strategise my approach?’ ‘Can I use the WEapproach™?’

Diversity is the act of thinking independently together.
Malcolm Forbes

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