Ingredients of Impactful Team Development
Does this sound familiar? Your team is full of really bright people. They love situations with clearly defined outcomes and are eager for the freedom to figure out how to design good solutions. Great!
Is this enough for you to meet emerging business goals? Not anymore.
Can I ask a couple of questions about what you’re working toward? Are you aiming to improve a process for proficiency or are you needing new solutions to meet emerging complex challenges?
The difference between successfully tapping proficiency oriented, individual contributor expertise and wielding complex problem solving skills that address new customer needs, impact several business areas and depend on the support of others for successful implementation are very different.
Well intentioned, highly talented team members with an “I can teach myself” mindset face a lot of obstacles that have nothing to with their subject matter expertise. “I can teach myself” has an implicit bias that information is at the root of creative problem solving…but is that really true for what you’re trying to accomplish?
For example, are team members encountering people who have trouble letting something go? Are they getting cooperation from or competing with other individual contributors hoping to make their own mark? Is the information they get from sales and account managers forward looking enough to give them what they need to create impactful solutions? How often do you see unintended consequences that set them back?
What is the lesson here? Smart and talented people armed with information and data alone can’t solve these dilemmas.
I get so many requests from organizations hoping that “training” individual expert contributors on communication best practices and conflict resolution prepare their teams to solve complex problems.
It’s just not enough. The undercurrents I named above are symptoms not root causes.
While clearly defined outcomes are hard enough to come by for people fixing or updating processes there’s a bigger obstacle underneath the day to day fray when it comes to creating new solutions to complex problems. Poor communication, lack of cooperation and collaboration as well as conflict flares are huge obstacles. These aren’t knowledge gaps. They are unconscious, emotional undercurrents that interfere with high performing team dynamics.
“How” to achieve your best intentions in complex problem-solving situations asks a lot more of them than what they know.
Expecting them to figure it out without hands on practice is like the difference between reading about exercise and incorporating fitness behaviors into their daily activity.
Subject matter expertise is important, but they need to EXERCISE specific collaborative soft skills if you intend for them to successfully tackle meaty problems.
Have you considered team coaching as a hands on opportunity to exercise those behaviors in real time?