Alyssa was reflecting on her recent experience as a member of a project team.
Earlier in the year, the team had been created and charged with doing a deeper dive within the company’s existing product lines and markets — emphasizing repeat sales to current clients. On the surface, it all went well. Several options were identified. The pros and cons of different directions were openly discussed. The group made its final recommendation to the senior team — on schedule — and their findings were well-received. A win!
But something gnawed at Alyssa. She sensed something out-of-place about their recommendations and she felt that the new direction would ultimately underperform or prove to be a failure. Only after recalling Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team did it come to her — while the team worked well enough together, the results were driven more by personal agendas and ego rather than a shared result that was best for the company.
The team’s final recommendations centered on retailing a product developed by two of the team members. This would result in more money for their departments (R&D and Marketing), and make them look good as they approached the year-end close and performance review time.
The project team’s suggestion looked good (and flashy) but it wasn’t actually aligned with what the team had committed to at the beginning of the project. If they had stayed focused on their original, collective objective, perhaps resources would have also gone to other product lines, data analytics, or the sales team — groups which happened to not have been represented on the project team.
Alyssa realized that temporary alliances based on personal interests and career advancement served as the underlying theme of the project team’s work. From the perspective of genuine team performance, this focus on personal success was in fact dysfunctional inattention to results.
High-performing teams are cohesive teams, focused on collective results, not individual outcomes. Team results should not be driven by departmental needs and budgets, or by individual ego or personal career moves. All decisions — all team “wins” — should fully meet the goals and objectives of the project team and be in the best interest of the organization.
Each of the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team — starting with trust, then healthy conflict, commitment, accountability, and lastly, results — builds upon the other. Speaking with her executive coach, Alyssa understood that right at the start, the team failed to build the trust required to have a truly honest, open assessment of its options and, as a consequence, failed to develop “the best” recommendation possible. For more about high performing teams and the importance of results, read Arden Coaching’s blog “Is Your Team Achieving the Right Kind of Results?” and, “Essentials of Team Performance: Results.”
Every element of the five behaviors of a cohesive team needs to be established, otherwise the outcome will be flawed. This is how high performing teams define and measure their success: on the basis of delivering results that are jointly shared and in the best interests of the mission of the team and the larger organization.
Collective results means everyone on the team fights for the collective win – not the personal or departmental win.