Teams are powerful constructs, and high-performance ones do not spring up by magic. By the same token, business teams are not the answer for every performance issue.
In corporations, while the talk is about teams and working together, there is actually a focus on individual performance. For the most part, there is no formal practice designed to enhance or improve group performance.
High-performance teams are “a small number of people with complementary skills who are equally committed to a common purpose, goals, and a working approach in which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” This definition of real teams comes from the article “The Wisdom of Teams”, by Katzenbach and Smith. Real teams are basic units of performance, and members of the team are mutually accountable for the results. This is quite different from how most of the work world is organized.
When a group takes on mutual accountability for their customers’ experiences, it can generate real customer-focused actions. From this, tangible and positive business results will occur. At my favorite restaurant, for example, the waiter greets me with my preferred glass of wine, letting me know that Chuck, the chef, has a special dish waiting for me. Everyone is clearly into giving me a personalized, pleasant experience, and I have not even ordered yet.
I have found that having a team design its structure allows the team to develop and perform more quickly. This is because in doing so, the team has to confront the performance issues it will encounter. The process allows for those issues to come to the forefront sooner than later, which speeds up the overall process. Once this process is complete, it is important that the team honors and walks the talk that it designed.
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