Which City?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Star players score goals but the team wins the match

I surprise myself when I stray into sporting analogy. Since I played hockey in the fifth form, I'm not sure I've played another team game, and I walk out of the room when the football's on, yet the clarity of sporting references is easy to communicate, helping me to understand what I mean, so I hope it  helps you too, whether or not you like sport.

When a manager, or a school sports teacher puts a team together they are looking for a level of indiviudal skill and competence which will make an effective contribution to the team. You have to be good enough to make the team. This applies of course to senior teams in organisations.

Star players carry a premium, but you only need one or two on the side. The team as a whole needs the determination and stamina to work hard, attacking, defending, coping on a minute by minute basis with everything the oposition throws at them. They have to be competent as individuals, but they must be effective as a team.

So often senior people are recruited as individuals, star players who have performed well eslewhere, in another role or organisation. Many transfer their skills well, some don't - either not stepping up, or finding a different style difficult to adjust to.

Rarely is a team recruited together, with complementary skills and roles, with an emphasis on collaboration and shared objectives. Yet always, this is their function. I was once recruited to a  team where all six of us were brought in to create a new management board at the same time. We were all recruited individually, but on a common job description, so we shared similar characteristics, not always helpful for good team working. In Belbin terms we were mostly shapers, in Myers Briggs ENTJs almost to a person - competitive or what? Certainly we seemed to spend more time dodging one another than dealing with what was coming at us from outside.

The purpose of the team is to win the game. There aren't  (or shouldn't be) individual prizes.

So how do individuals, individually convened as a team rather than selected as such, harness their individual talents for the greater good. Here's some tips:

  1. Heads up, look around - if your head is down getting on with your own task, how can you know what your colleagues are doing, how can you help them or benefit from their help. Stop, communicate and listen as I think the song goes...
  2. Know yourself - understand and appreciate your own skills and strengths and let your colleagues know what you've got to offer. 
  3. Know your team - watch how your colleagues behave, what they enjoy, what they avoid. Play your strengths to their weakness, and vice versa, for the good of the team and the shared outcome
  4. Encourage, support and congratulate. Don't wait for the manager or Chief Executive to praise, be positive with your colleagues and feed off their support. Giver's gain, works every time.
At The Open Channel we believe in finding the strengths in individuals and teams, and in difficult times finding your strengths is the key to survival and success.

My colleague Steve Loraine is a real sports coach, I only write about it, but between us we can offer team and individual coaching to help you achieve your goals.

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