Photo by Author
We gathered together at my house to discuss year—end results and goals and objectives for the following year. … It had been a great year, the best in the history of the organization! The metrics demonstrated, proved if you will, it had been a phenomenal year. The organizational scorecard clearly showed marked improvement over recent years. No one argued whether or not it had been a great year. The only question was, “how did we achieve it.”
As we enjoyed a cup of coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts (and mango and pineapple to counteract the doughnuts), I asked the group, my team, what had changed. What had we done differently this year? Why the significant improvement?
To a person, everyone said the same thing, in different ways, using different words. But everyone agreed that the improvement had been caused by the team, the members, the way we worked together, the uniqueness we each brought, the ability we had to hold frank conversations while demonstrating respect, the strong communication ability of the team, and the “chemistry” amongst the team members.
I’ll be frank. Getting the right team in place hadn’t been easy. It required change. It required moving some players around. I added team members. I took away team members. This is the “heavy-lifting.” It’s not easy. And it’s not fun. But if you are willing to do the hard work, it will pay continual dividends.
By putting together the right team, we enjoyed better communication, stronger accountability, and increased focus. By putting together the right team, we took away distractions, excuses, and negative attitudes. By putting together the right team, we built momentum, created energy, and gained the respect of the organization at large.
This last item cannot be overemphasized. Almost always, the organization knows when a leadership team is dysfunctional at worst or mediocre at best. People are smart and the workers are generally smarter than their bosses give them credit for. They can see when there’s not alignment. They know when the team isn’t working well together. They can sense when there are divisions. The opposite is true as well. They know when there’s harmony. When there’s respect. When there’s good teamwork.
So, why do so many “bosses” refuse to put together the right team? Well, it’s hard. There is heavy-lifting involved. You may have to dismiss people. Move people into a new role. Or bring someone new into the team. Finally, you may have to do all the above. It requires hard work, tough conversations, and looking for the right “match.” It could require going outside the organization and recruiting someone. It could require a new organization structure.
Building a team from scratch or honing an existing team is definitely not easy. I’ve done it several times. There have nights without sleep. There have been tears (of sadness and joy). There have been moments of 2nd guessing decisions.
Yet each time I have helped put the right team in place, it has been worth it. The results are amazing! The teamwork is inspiring! The environment is energizing! Yes, the work can be (and usually is) hard, but the benefits are always worth it. Once the “right” team is in place, good things begin to happen and it permeates throughout the entire organization. There is a trickle-down effect (and yes, I voted for Reagan).
As our team discussed taking a boat “cruise” to enjoy our year-end performance, I couldn’t help but be proud. The right team was in place. We were hitting on all cylinders. We were achieving phenomenal results. The hard work had been done and we were now enjoying the benefits. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly great. A new leadership team, with the right people, had resulted in better chemistry, results, communication, trust, transparency, and more fun. I was proud of the team. They were proud to be on the team and proud of their results.
Having the right team makeup is really the Corner Stone of excellence. The right team doesn’t mean the work wont’ be challenging, but it means a high level of sustained performance is achievable. It means that the work can be fun and rewarding, while adding value. Without this Corner Stone, it’s impossible to achieve optimal results.
How is your team? Do you have the right people in place? Are you enjoying the fruits of world-class teamwork or afraid to do the “heavy-lifting?”
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.