Every leader that I know believes they have power teams in their organization but too often they believe that these occur due to some mystical personality driven relationships within the group. They also believe they are the exception rather than the rule.
How to build a Power Team Organization:
I believe, on the other hand, it is possible to continually expand the number of powerful teams within any organization that is open, proactive and transparent in communicating by just following several guidelines. Now keep in mind these are by no means the only path, but I know that I have used them in developing some very successful teams in retail and IT.
Please read this with an open mind and a willingness to try something different. It probably will not work the first time but over several attempts you will become more successful with each iteration. Everything in these guidelines are predicated on having honest, open, transparent communications with your people. If you don’t have that right now, read on and try some of the tasks. If you don’t want to have that then I suggest you stop reading right now. Thanks for stopping by and I wish you well in the future.
Think in terms of Matrix rather than Hierarchical structure.
This may seem simple, but we are so ingrained with equating hierarchy with efficient structure that it is tough to think about any other way. When you are open to flattening your leadership teams and allocating more decision-making power to the front-line teams you will find a wealth of new creativity, innovation and growth available to the company.
In a matrix structure everyone involved is expected to take responsibility for some portion of leadership, even if it is only doing their assigned tasks. In this way there is pride of ownership, especially if it is rewarded with recognition.
There may be a logical reason for your organization to stay in a hierarchical structure if it is highly regulated field or the current organization is in chaos however I can’t emphasize how important this matrix development is, even if it is only for part of the organization.
Ensure your teams are flexible and adaptable.
The more flexible and adaptable you can keep your teams the more room there is for growth in the organization. Specialization plays a role but only where necessary to ensure quality or precision. If your teams can understand this concept they will be much more productive and happy in their own pursuits. Don’t allow any leader to become possessive of people, skills, roles, or titles.
Resources should be shared as much as possible and mobile, within reason. When you have fully dedicated resources assigned, the business has little flexibility in terms of product or service growth because people will become comfortable in the status quo or over-protective of a product well beyond it’s customer driven life cycle. This often leads to radical reorganization which leads to disengagement and poor-quality products and services.
Evaluate and minimize roles across the entire organization, especially when it comes to programs or projects. Roles should be for functional necessity rather than status.
Let no team become isolated or siloed within the organization. Make sure there are open channels of communication and responsibility between all teams, even if unrelated in process or tasks.
Prioritize all projects in relation to other work within the organization and how it fits the overall vision, mission and goals of the enterprise. If you can’t do this then you have a problem.
Provide a method of allowing projects or programs to negotiate for resources they need and ensure that they schedule them based on their availability in terms of prior commitments. You also must make sure that the resources are freed up when their specific role is completed. Hoarding of resources will create silo’s and isolation.
If you have specialized skills that are needed for parts of several different projects, then consider developing a SWAT team approach where these resources are pooled in a team and the team is deployed to a project until that segment is completed. This team moves from project to project as needed.
Ensure your teams are capable and ready for a variety of environments.
Simulation training and effective exercises can allow teams to prepare for the most extreme exceptions should the need occur. The key, however, is making sure that the threats or potential threats are real and that the protection of the processes, methods or products are of value to the customer, employees, and the company. If the value is not accepted and embraced by the employees, they will not take the process seriously and you will have a good chance of failure the first time a situation occurs.
Competitors can change the environment very rapidly and going to war is not always the right answer but a team or teams that are well trained, invested, trusted, respected, and valued can overcome most competitive situations and generate innovative, creative, and profitable alternatives.
Be proactive in restructuring your team(s) as necessary. You may even want to anticipate configuration changes based on various phases of projects, programs or product development using the same team members in different roles. This can provide the company with a deep skill set without having to specialize which, as mentioned before, can lead to silo’s and isolation.
Ensure your teams are unified, not necessarily uniform.
If you have a large amount of repetitive activity in your processes or product manufacture, then having uniform teams may pay off but, in most businesses, unity is much more important.
Assemble common processes, guidelines, and expectations that can be agreed to by all levels of the organization involved. From a governance perspective you may want to look at using a Project Management Office (PMO) when you have multiple related projects that can benefit from common terminology, protocols, expectations, and measurement criteria.
Unity provides latitude for the teams so have some level of autonomy if they stay within the scope of the defined guidelines from the PMO. By ensuring that there are no silo’s or isolated teams then communications should be able to transcend from one layer to another in a relatively simple and straight forward manner.
Establish acceptable, agreed to accountability guidelines.
Depending on several criteria you must ensure there is an agreed to method for progress reporting on a regular basis, conflict resolution within and between teams, as well as final signoff at completion of the project, process or program.
This must also include an early warning system to ensure that any potential roadblocks are examined, evaluated, and dealt with as quickly as possible. Everyone within the organization must accept the responsibility for triggering the alarm, without fear of retribution, if they suspect, observe and document a flaw, imperfection or low-quality performance of any process or team.
In my opinion, without accountability no high value project, program or process will ever be completed on time, on budget and to the satisfaction of the customer or requestor. When there is little to no accountability the organization defaults to simple rudimentary projects that are uncreative and sustain the status quo at best, there is no innovation or growth possible.
These five guidelines can make any organization great, but it will not happen overnight, nor will it be done easily. There are egos, personalities and culture that must come into focus with all five of these, so they work effectively, and the enterprise will flourish.
If you find egos are getting in the way, then decisions need to be made. If personalities are in conflict, then there needs to be resolution meetings to bridge the differences or changes need to be made. If the culture is locked into rigid and immovable silo’s then decisions need to be made. With any of these situations, there will be disruption and it will not be comfortable but what is you dream worth? Is the dream still alive or has it been dead for a while and not buried yet? Is it worth fighting for and who are you willing to accept as allies in the process? Not easy questions, not easy processes but well worth the investment.
I would love to discuss this with you if you are interested in moving your organization to this model. Please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me to set up a 30-minute discussion at 630-454-4821.