Why Best Practices Are Not Shared Among and Between Teams
Author: Bryan Ritchie
It seems to happen so often that for awhile I didn’t even recognize it. I would work with an organization and over a period of time they would see incredible results. That was the good news. But the bad news was that while the organization hit its stated objectives, the gains weren’t evenly distributed across all of the teams in the company. Equally troubling, the gains within almost every team were also uneven.
At the heart of the matter was the fact that while best practice around aligning vision, strategy, and execution was occurring in the organization and leading to great outcomes, we were leaving money on the table, so to speak, when it came to maximizing the ceiling of the organization’s potential gains. What needed to happen was a systematic improvement on sharing best practices within and across teams.
Most high performing team members myopically believe that they are the reason the team succeeds and that there is little that any other team members can do for them. Ironically, even mediocre and sometimes poor team performers feel the same way! In other words, team members have a difficult time assessing their actual contributions and performance. The standard for most teams is actually less teamwork, higher mistrust, and a “go-it-alone” attitude.
So how can teams become great? We believe strongly that the label of great team has little to do with the current capacity of the team and much more to do with the ability of the team to learn together and increase its joint capacity. If true, a team with little current capacity but with high ability to learn together will, over time, be more valuable than a team with high current capacity but little ability to grow. We live in a rapidly changing world which places a premium on team development ability more than current skills.
Three things influence a team’s ability to learn and perform together:
- First, and by far most important, a team that can share best practice has to have a high degree of interpersonal trust.
Let’s talk about trust for a minute. To grow, individual team members need to be willing and able to identify their weaknesses and then practice to improve them. Can you imagine a team where members are not safe to admit weaknesses being willing to expose themselves to the critique of other team members? Yet without this, there is no growth!
- The discipline to practice the craft of the team together, usually as role playing.
You can see that without trust, this second item will never happen. Yet even with trust, if there is no practice, nothing improves. Think of any good sports team. Can a team that only competes in games and never practices win a championship? Without practice, teams don’t improve.
- Regular validation and celebration of progress and achievements.
Critique in the workplace is common; validation and celebration is often rare if not absent. Take the time to allow the team to celebrate their wins. I once worked with a team of Ph.D. scientists at a large pharmaceutical company. Every time all of their team members accomplished certain tasks and skill acquisition milestones they would have a large barbeque party at work to celebrate. They made a big deal of almost everything they accomplished. The interesting outcome was that this team outperformed all of its peer competitors.
When teams become high performing teams the successful organization can achieve yet another, often evasive, level of success. Aligning teams internally and across the organization to create and share best practices generates world-class competitive advantage.
Bryan Ritchie and James Western are co-founders of GrowthSPORT, a successful consulting company whose mission is to improve SCORES (Stimulate Culture, Optimize Results and Engage Staff) for Teams, Divisions, Departments and Organizations through the SPORT model (Strategic Alignment, Personnel Performance, Operational Execution, Results Accountability and Team Strength), which are the Five Core Elements of Success.
GrowthSPORT provides resources, tools and experienced consultants to effectively implement the SPORT performance model from companies ranging from Startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Feel free to reach out to GrowthSPORT at (801) 676-2500 or at www.growth-sport.com.