How do you put together a winning team? Why do so many leaders fail to get the results they want from their teams on a regular basis? I believe that the reasons so many strong leaders fail is they do not understand the four elements that impact their team’s success. Many years ago, I learned about teams from a book called Team Building by William G. Dyer, W. Gibb Dyer, Jr. and Jeffrey H. Dyer. They broke a team’s performance into what they called The Four Cs of Team Performance. It’s the best system I’ve found in evaluating a team’s performance quickly and repeatedly. I used this structure to evaluate first responder training and development.
Since many of you are responsible for leading and developing your team’s best efforts I thought I’d share their framework from this great book, now out in a fifth edition. If you’re looking to take your team’s results up a level, this book helps you get there quickly. The book provides a wide range of tools and strategies that help you great results.
The first C they share stands for context. This first C helps you understand the environment your team works in. It also helps you better understand the culture in which your team is operating in. In my experience, I find that if you invest time in this C you increase the likely hood of success exponentially. Context often times explains why the same training in similar departments fails to reach their intended goals.
The second C is composition. This concept focuses on the team members’ skills, strengths, and experiences. Many successful organizations spend significant time to understand individuals’ strengths, but little time understanding how different strengths interact with each other. It is critical to develop team systems and structures that incorporate an assessment of their team leaders and their own capabilities. I have seen highly productive teams destroyed because of a new leader with different leadership capabilities brought onto the team. This is why many succession strategies fail on implementation. The organization must decide what the composition should be and what challenges they should address. In many ways, team composition can provide you with a formula for success in your growing business.
The third C is competencies. I define these factors as the intangibles of team performance. These are the glue that helps a high performing team work well together. They include communications, decision making skills, and how they might solve problems. I find this dimension the most difficult to understand in advance of the team performing together. I use many different problem solving exercises and significant time observing the team to better understand how a team performs in difficult situations.
The final C is change. This C involves two key aspects from my perspective. The first is how the team improves its own performance. Are they improving how they do things on a regular basis without direction? High performing teams must be willing to proactively improve their performance. Unlike high performing individuals who are constantly looking for another edge, high performing teams tend to plateau because it’s easier to perform the task in the same way than look for new ways to work together. The other variable that may impact a team’s performance is that as they do problem solving, they may need to change their level of leadership on the team. They may need to move from a central leadership role into one of primary support as other team member skills continue to improve at a greater rate than their own. This allows for personal and professional growth on the team but challenges many of the team organizational structure.
The second element of change is externally driven. For example, when we began putting cameras on first responders we could begin to see how to improve performance in real time. Initially, there was reluctance to have external leadership assisting in decision making until it was proven conclusively how this could dramatically improve the results for the team. External change needs to be advocated to team members to help them take ownership in a disruptive change. Effective team leaders must always be looking outside their own organization to get new ideas that might improve their effectiveness.
Now that you understand a basic framework of teams, this Thursday we talk about the key qualities required to manage a high performing team. If you want to grab a copy of Team Building, I believe it will change the way you work with your teams both inside and outside your organization. It’s an incredible resource for anyone who is responsible for managing teams in their personal or professional lives.