4 Tips to Develop a Team Competitive Advantage

Courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net
Courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

In a previous article, we discussed the idea of problem solving broken into a mindset structure, in this article we will look at ways to make a team building strategy that can become a competitive advantage, if done consistently and transparently using those mindsets.

If you are a team leader or senior leader, this same process applies. You must realize that the process takes time, a lot of effort and most importantly connecting with your team members. It cannot be done remotely nor can it be done in a vacuum, i.e., without input from the team members. There must be integrity, trust, and transparency in the whole process.

1)   Examine and Align – Really examine yourself and your team members and try to align everyone’s STRENGTH’s to one or more of the mindsets that we discussed in the last article.

  • Does someone have the mindset that allows them to dig into the detail of a problem and evaluate all components & perspectives to understand it and determine what is missing or what needs to be added?
  • Does someone have the ability to continuously collect detail and put it into sequence, allowing him or her to see the big picture & evaluate where the problem exists and why?
  • Do you have someone that has the ability to take information available and make assumptions based on that information, deducing the most optimal solution given their personal perspective?
  • Do you have someone who can see a problem as black or white and a solution as right or wrong then seek authoritative approval & consensus?
  • Do you have someone who has the mindset that will envision several outcomes, make assumptions as to what needs to be done to achieve an outcome? Are they also willing to take risks because they have confidence in their own judgment?
  • Does someone have the ability to compartmentalize a problem as an individual event and seek solutions with an open mind?

Once you have determined which you think applies to each person, determine why you believe it is true. Did you use criteria to evaluate or was it subjective? What were the measurement factors? This will be important when you have your individual discussions.

2)   Determine Weaknesses:  Take a similar approach to lining up yourself and your team with one or more of the six problem solving mindset WEAKNESSES:

  • Do some not move quickly enough to a solution because they do not feel they have all the facts?
  • Do some feel lost because they cannot match this situation up with past comparative situations nor can they figure out a new solution?
  • Are any locked into only seeing the world from their own limited perspective?
  • Do some have difficulty moving past a problem, because they do not like making decisions without affirmation that they are moving forward with an accepted approach?
  • Are some frozen because of a deadline or budget constraint? Do they struggle because they may have difficulty focusing and can lose sight of more obvious solutions?
  • Do some allow issues to reoccur several times before solutions are put in place because they are not pragmatic enough to solve the issues?

This section can become a bit thorny when having individual discussions so I really recommend that you include the people in sorting it out. You can use a tool such as DiSC or other such instrument to assist or you could build a simple questionnaire.

3)   Discuss and EmpowerOnce you have the Problem Solving Mindset evaluation process completed, discuss it very openly with your team. First, train your entire team on each of the problem solving mindsets, making it an open discussion amongst them. Empower them to embrace the one or two that fits their attitudes and desires. Focus on ones where the majority of the team show strengths. Being open and honest in this will help you tackle problems more strategically when they do occur.

Then have individual discussions with each team member one-on-one.

Work with each individual to grow their strengths and teach them how to leverage other team members who have strength’s in their weak areas to assist. This builds a foundation for collaboration and trust, which can open all kinds of possibilities for growth.

Once you have met with everyone individually, determine how you will communicate any of the conclusions. It is really up to you whether to share the conclusions but, personally, I believe it is an important step. However, your team must be open, respectful and have trust in each member before sharing the information will be fully embraced. You may choose to wait until some positive results have been seen to improve weaknesses, and then share. Team members may also decide to share the information on their own.

4)   Tackle and Monitor!

I would recommend that you assign each new problem to one team member to lead the solution process based on their strengths. Each problem may go to a different leader depending on strengths and knowledge. Then assign other team members to support the assigned leader based on complimentary skills or knowledge. The leader must be willing to empower the support members to use their strengths to communicate and successfully complete a solution. Be certain that expectations are fully disclosed with each team and that there is agreement on the accountability portion. This will allow for good monitoring during the process.

This team approach will get you to the best, most competitive solutions faster thereby giving your company a competitive advantage. If you would like assistance in developing a workable framework that would represent your company, please contact me at Transformative Leadership Group.