Organizations comprised of functional, high performing teams consistency enjoy better business results than an organization comprised of dysfunctional, mediocre teams. High performing teams are directly related to retention, engagement, innovation and bottom line results. In short, high performing teams help companies win.
One of the most visible examples of this resides in professional sports. Take an NFL football game for example. 11 highly skilled people must work together in perfect orchestration to get the job done. For each of those 11 players there is a vast support system that operates on the sidelines or behind the scenes ensure the right strategy is executed. It’s a beautiful thing.
But just like any other team, there are challenges. Leadership adjustments are made. Team members come and go every year. Strategy changes. New rules are implemented. Despite these challenges, teams continue to perform a high level every year. How do they do it?
This was the question that I posed to XXXI Super Bowl Champ Dorsey Levens. Turns out that some of the same behaviors that help a Super Bowl winning team perform at their peak can be duplicated in your workplace.
We all want to win
“Everyone wants the same thing” Dorsey said simply. “We all want to win.” Every single person on the team works hard to accomplish this singular goal. The objective is simple, clear and every task and decision is directed at accomplishing that goal. Sure, there are bumps in the road but the goal is unwavering.
The workplace should be no different. How well can a team perform if their goal is not well defined or the strategy is unclear? Plainly define what a win means to the team and keep that vision clear and present. This becomes the foundation of decision making. It keeps the team focused and shapes priorities.
“Do your job and trust others to do theirs”
This was the first thing Dorsey said to me when I asked about the secret of team effectiveness: “You just have to focus on doing your job and trust others to do theirs.” Such a concept frees you up to focus on your contribution to the team win.
When you question a team mates motives or doubt their effectiveness, you shift your focus away from what’s important-the team win. Stay focused on your own performance and have confidence that your team mates are executing their part of the winning plan.
Everyone is responsible for performance
It’s pretty obvious when a member of the team isn’t performing-at least in professional football. The team sees it, the coaches sees it, and the fans watch it. What’s more is that a players job is directly tied to their ability to consistently perform at high level.
“When someone is bringing down the team, it’s addressed right away” Dorsey said. And not just by the coach. Members of the team call each other out. We are all accountable.
On high performing teams, members are comfortable providing both appreciative and constructive feedback. When properly executed this helps individuals get the help and support they need to make adjustments so that they can continue to contribute to the team win.
“My coach at Notre Dame used to say to us ‘W.I.N. What’s Important Now.’?” Dorsey said. This helps keeps the focus on what’s next. What is the most important thing we should be focused on now? Forget the poor performance of the 1st half. What do we need to do in the second half to play well?
Consider your team at work. Do you have a forward focus when working with your team mates? Or are you hung up on the missed deadline from two weeks ago? Does your team debrief at the end of the project to talk about what will be done differently/better the next time or do you spend time beating yourselves up over the mistakes that were made? The former is much more effective and will bring you closer to a team win.
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