How to Build a Team That Drives Continuous Business Growth
Employees are the only growing asset you have in your business. What’s important to remember is that you and your business are only as strong as your weakest link. This phrase rings very true when it comes to building and growing business sustainably. One untapped competitive advantage a business has in achieving its growth are the individuals that make up their team. Building a committed and motivated team is a critical part of the solution when it comes to growing your business, declining to do so will inevitably result in business failure, sooner or later.
So, here’s the million-dollar question: If this is so obvious, and the topic has been beaten to death repeatedly, why don’t we just take this sage advise and put it into action? For two important reasons; (1) we have significantly over-complicated the subject and (2) a lack of tangibility on the subject. When we read “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, we start to understand the essence of what a system truly is, and how constraints can be minimized or eliminated. It’s one thing to think of a system in a non-human fashion, but when we apply people to a “system,” we start to see “team” in a very different, yet simplistic manner.
Think about the following for a few minutes while looking at the diagram below, who is your strongest team
When we look at the team consisting of Person 1, Person 2 and Person 3, who would be the strongest team player? In this example, Person 2 is the strongest player. Even though Person 2 is a level D performer, this level of performance causes the greatest constraint in the system technically and consequently determines the overall capacity of the system, in this case, the “people system.”
Building the correct infrastructure in the team can be very challenging not because we’re “splitting the atom,” but because traditionally, building the people system has largely been intangible. By looking at the team as a system, we can now start identifying what may be holding the team back and minimize or reduce the constraint (s) by acting appropriately. Here are three ways to put your business on track by building a more effective team.
- Ruffle the Team’s Feathers
I’ve worked with many teams at various organizational levels, and if there is one theme that always rears its ugly head, it’s that no one wants to point fingers at each other. I’m not referring to pointing an “ugly” and “nasty” finger at anyone but pointing a constructive and objective finger towards the area of concern/constraint. As per the diagram above, when we know that one component (i.e. a person/s) of the “team system” is not functioning at optimum level, we must call that individual out so that the problem or constraint is relieved immediately. In the example above, when Person 2 is not playing his part in the team, and the team’s success relies heavily on each player being at their optimum, Person 2 becomes that bottleneck. This does not only frustrate the customer but frustrates Person 1 and Person 3 who are the stronger players on the team. Losing them to the business or see them degrade to C and D players due to disengagement is foolishness and detrimental to the business.
- Team Diversity
Diversity within a team doesn’t just make for a more interesting work environment, but from a productivity standpoint having the input from minds of different backgrounds and experiences will always result in higher levels of innovation. Studies tell us that businesses with a diverse workforce are more than twice as profitable than those that do not have a diverse range of employees. If we consider the example and diagram above, having a constraint is not necessarily because Person 2 (the D player) “refuses” to do his best but could benefit from input from other members (Person 1 and Person 3) in the team. When individuals in the team start to see their success depends on the success of the whole team, diversity of ideas (when it comes to problem-solving) takes a giant leap forward impacting the team’s performance and overall productivity. This leads to one important factor, the growth of the business!
According to Patrick Lencioni and his book the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick emphasizes that the team doesn’t need 100% consensus to drive business performance forward but does need 100% commitment from each member in the team. Commitment requires buy-in and buy-in requires a diversity of thought by having every individual on the team be heard.
The only way to effectively establish buy-in within an organization is to create an overriding sense of inclusion. This means that employees are made to feel respected, valued and are actively welcome to share their authentic ideas. It begins with transparency and openly communicating to your team that you want them to be a part of the growth of the business, while simultaneously creating incentives for them to contribute to the success through their efforts.
In conclusion, approaching the above as the traditional “fluff” is foolish, and if you have read this article to this point, you may be well on your way to deciding to approach this differently in your business. As such you are also well on your way to taking full advantage of one of the last critical competitive advantages in business today, your people and the teams they work in.