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Creating an Ecosystem for Thriving Teams

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

The battle to find, attract, get the best out of, retain and grow talent has been and will always be a work in progress. With the way the workforce and workplace are currently evolving (1), organisations should embrace that processes and technology can only bring an organization up to a certain point. To truly transform their organisation, they need to take an honest and critical view of what organization, leadership, management and engagement mean for them too. This requires a change of mindset and way of being.

One aspect of this shift requires organisations to recognise and accept the growing importance of creating an ecosystem for teams to thrive (2). Organisations should move away from thinking about teams based mainly on hierarchy or skill-set. Having an ecosystem for teams recognises that teams may be in a constant state of flux. Teams may form and disband as needed. Teams could be collaborating on projects that last for weeks and in some instances, years. It is therefore imperative for organisations embarking on this journey to be cognizant of some of the building blocks (1) below which I have personally found to be very effective when managing virtual and remote teams.

1. Activate Each Person’s Strengths

This building block recognises the individual as an individual first and then in the context of a team. It has become clearer that it is smarter and more rewarding to activate and develop an individual’s strengths (4) instead of trying to minimise or train away that individual’s weaknesses. Organisations must recognise that each team member brings a different strength to the team and may, therefore, contribute to the team’s success in different ways. This must be clearly called out and transparent to each team member. In this way, each team member becomes a leader in their own right but in the context of the team objectives. This promotes a healthier collaboration and to some extent smoothens out the inevitable initial friction when individuals come together to work as a team, especially for the first time.

2. Agreed Team Behaviours

There are copious books and articles written about the 5 stages of team development. Yet, it is easy for teams to fall into the default view that everyone should immediately know how to work with one another and that everyone will work with the end goal in mind. For the stages of team development to take its due course, all team members must be mindful of it. The commitment to this process is further impacted by the current shift in the concept of teams. What helps is for organisations to recognise that a team is truly a system and at the heart of it is a collection of individuals coming together to collaborate, not always willingly. Therefore, regardless of which team an individual may belong to at any point in time, it is important that each person comes to the table with a baseline of behaviours that permeates the whole organization. Behaviours are tangible, observable and recognisable. This may be expressed as the culture or the values of the organization. However, it is crucial that these behaviours are expressed authentically, simply and clearly.

3. Sense of Purpose

Having SMART goals and KPIs are essential. These are needed to track progress and measure what has been achieved and will continue to be important. However, this alone does not suffice anymore when taking into consideration the current realities and the rise of the individual at work (1).

Organisations must recognise that there is a growing importance for teams to have a sense of purpose too. This enables individuals to find common ground collectively so that they can collaborate and work as a team. Common ground sets the stage for each person to vocalise their perspectives and for them to discuss their views openly and purposefully. Through this, teams have a higher probability of seeing possibilities that may not have been present before and to take a course of action that may have previously have not even thought of.

By putting people at the heart of the business when looking at the ecosystem of teams, organisations will find that business processes and other business outcomes will be positively impacted.

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