Multipliers for High Performing Teams
today’s rapidly changing business environment “good” teamwork is
not good enough. To truly achieve extraordinary results your team
needs to turn the on the afterburner and employ some force
multipliers. In this article, we want to show you four critical force
multipliers can take your high performance team and make it
Multiplier 1: Conduct More Effective Meetings: “We have too many
meetings!” is the battle cry of the knowledgeable worker.
Intuitively many managers have sought to reduce the number of meetings
in order to improve the efficiency, but in many cases this will not
fix the problem. The problem in most companies is not too many
meetings - it’s that their meetings are irrelevant. In many cases
the reason for the meeting is unclear, or there are no rules of
conduct for the meeting — leading to confusion and frustration for
the people involved. We’ve witnessed many well-intentioned teams,
meeting for all the right reasons, only to be derailed by a lack of
basic structure or discipline. Here are some practical tips that will
dramatically improve the effectiveness of your meetings.
Determine when your team must meet in order to
allow subordinate groups or individuals the time they will need to
plan and brief prior to executing actions that achieve desired
Determine the desired effect of your meeting. What
are three things you want to see as a result of having a meeting?
Create a standing agenda that is flexible enough
to accommodate your group but keeps them focused on the elements
they deem critical to successful decision-making and execution.
Group members should submit input to the agenda on a
pre-established schedule that allows for the agenda to be
finalized and sent to participants in advance of the meeting.
must do any required
Establish Rules Of Engagement (ROE) and enforce
them. Here are some examples of meeting ROE:
1) Only one person speaks at a time.
2) No sidebar conversations.
3) Allow participants to finish their thought
No email / cell / Blackberry interruptions.
Consider carefully the impact of your decisions
and how to best communicate decisions to subordinate
Complete a Commitment Sheet at the end of the
meeting and email it to the participants after the meeting. This
consists of the minutes from the meeting, decisions made and
assignment of accountability for action. Most teams struggle with
decision-making in meetings. Filling out a Commitment Sheet can
dramatically improve how a team addresses issues and makes
decisions. It also ensures accountability and records all of the
issues brought to the table in a simple format. A good Commitment
Sheet should include the decisions discussed, what actions we will
take, further research we will make, deferred decisions and
contingency plans discussed. See the example below:
Multiplier 2: Build a Relevant Team Scorecard: A relevant
scorecard is essential to a high performance team, but numbers for
their own sake won’t make your meeting effective. Too many teams
measure the wrong things — which can kill a team’s performance.
The saying goes..."ask the wrong questions, get the wrong
answers”. It’s best to focus on a few sets of metrics that are the
most relevant to supporting the team in their decision-making and
execution responsibilities. Ad hoc reports can supplement these
numbers when your team wants deeper analysis on a particular issue.
Remember to keep the appropriate level of detail. Too little detail
and the numbers are worthless. Too much detail and people don’t read
or understand them. Let the team validate the format of your
scorecard. Recognize that your initial scorecard will NOT be perfect
and will need constant testing and revision until it seems right.
Finally, make sure that what you choose to measure supports the
broader operational goals.
Multiplier 3: Commit to a Set of “Living” Standards: Most
companies have standard operating procedures (SOPs) — on the shelf
in some cubical. Most SOPs are outdated the day they are written. This
is a tragedy. Your SOPs can be the glue that enables standardized
execution, but they have to be a central part of your team’s
execution process. They have to be frequently updated, and they have
to be referenced and upheld again and again by leaders of the team. In
a flawlessly executing team, standards allow you to handle routine
operations flawlessly and with greater speed.
Standards are critical to gaining Lessons Learned from
Debriefing. They can help you understand whether failure to adhere to
the standards caused the failure or, conversely, whether your team’s
success resulted from NOT following the standards. In this case you
would need to adjust your SOPs to the next best practice. When you
Debrief a situation and identify a Lesson Learned, many of these can
be added to your SOPs so this knowledge is not lost tomorrow, next
week or next month.
Multiplier 4: Establish Disciplined Communication Rules: Undisciplined
communication can sap the effectiveness of any group. We’re not
talking about the interpersonal chat that goes on in an organization.
We are talking about how team members send and receive information to
one another that supports the execution — the voice mails, emails,
ad hoc meetings and memos. Teams with good Battle Rhythm take these
daily communications seriously enough to create detailed standards for
them. Here are a few examples:
Communication should be face to face first, voice
second, and email / text message last.
Never leave a voice mail longer than 15 seconds.
Always include a routing code in the subject of
your emails so that it can be automatically handled by each team
member’s Outlook software.
Never reply more than once to an email. Start a
new email so the recipient does not have to read a long string of
messages to figure out what you are talking about.
Never handle a conflict with an email — only in
person, or over the phone if meeting in person is not possible.
There are plenty of “good” teams out
there, but it takes far more discipline and commitment than most
leaders want to give to become “flawless”. If you have what it
takes to lead the process, the payoffs can be fantastic.
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