Team dynamics and challenging the status quo ……………..

This morning I have been struck by a refection with regards to the difference between the dynamics of corporate team environments and those that exist within team sport environments and felt the compelling need to share it.

Playing in our 3rd and final pre season friendly hockey match yesterday, I was the unwitting recipient of my first green card (2 minutes off the pitch)

Despite my minor, personal protests and lack of understanding as to the reason for brief spell on the side-line (unawareness), my team mates had little to say as we focussed on a very enthralling game that finished 4-4.

On completing the game the captain and his technical advisor, were both without holding anything back, clear that my repeated stick tackles deserved the green card that I had received.  Whilst initially being slightly perplexed that my ‘so called’ team mates had not rallied around me to tell me that that everything was fine and that it was unjust decision, that perplexing moment turned to pride almost instantly and here’s why.

Team Sport environments

To me “team sport” implies that every member of that sporting team is there for the same reason, albeit as with all humans we have our own personal drives as well. They are united and unified by a sense of purpose (please see Simon Sinek link at bottom of page for a great example of the importance of purpose)

They want to win for sure, however way more than that, and I speak from personal experience, they want to feel part of something, they want to make a difference within and to their team/club which in turn will lead to them being successful, whether that is measured in terms of pure enjoyment or in terms of winning a cup or gaining promotion, for example.

My team mates, maybe without even realising yesterday, helped me become more ‘self aware’ yesterday afternoon and in turn helped me learn so that I can improve for the next game. They helped me identify a skill/scenario where I need to improve, something that would have been in my ‘blind spot’ (see Johari Window link at bottom of page) had they avoided being so honest with me. They were also direct, clear yet supportive in their diagnosis and in turn their communication with me.

How many people in your world, private and work, offer the purpose, clarity and open communication that you need to support you being the very best that you can be?

Corporate team environments

We spent two thirds of our lives at work, doing the best we can, trying to make a difference, trying to fit in, trying to please (saying yes too often without discussing trade-offs – ref: Greg McKeown Essentialism), trying to better ourselves etc

However do we spend all of this time working in organisations that can give us that purpose, clarity and open communication that is critical to driving healthy, engaging, high performance?

Do we challenge our managers and organisations to be healthier, to offer purpose, clarity and the ability to openly communicate?

Do we challenge ourselves to ask why we work for a company and are we giving our all to our team and our organisation?  If we are not, why not?  Is there misalignment?

I feel that my experience this weekend is far more prevalent within genuine, purpose driven team environments when all team members are focussed on the same goal, with the same passion and the same drive.  Within corporate environments there is, without doubt, fear at times to challenge the status quo for fear of being singled out or on occasion we hear the old age comment such as “there is no point saying anything as nothing ever changes.”

These comments arise when there is a lack of purpose; a lack of common cause or maybe if there is a misalignment/conflict between what an employee and the organisation stands for. Line management has a key, critical role of course in bringing an organisations purpose to life, and here too, there are challenges.

I have personally invested the last 2 years of my life actively focussing on performance, learning and development at the same time as managing an international sales role. On a regular basis and during learning events we use Simon Sineks golden circle model to help explain the value of purpose, we use Joharis Window and Dr Professor Stevens Chimp Paradox model to aid improved self awareness and to help improve clarity and also use Greg McKeowns Essentialism messages to help prioritise the most essential activity of organisational life with the aim of improving communication and in turn high performance.

I am proud of my organisations increased receptiveness to engage these ‘soft’ topics which are so fundamental to the long term sustainability of organisations.

The challenge

Of course, there is not the same ‘dog eat dog’ pressure playing a team sport on a voluntary basis, but does corporate life have to be quite as ‘dog eat dog’? As Richard Branson quotes in his book “The Virgin Way,” organisations are in essence a group of people trying to make each others lives better.

We can only work to the best of our ability, in the most high performing way, whether for a sports team or for an employer organisation, if the environment within which we operate offers clear purpose, clarity of operation and offers an open communication culture on which feedback can be offered and received without fear of reprisal i.e. genuine, challenging, supportive, high performing team work.

In essence we are talking about having the right culture that allows every team member, in every part of an organisation, to have the opportunity to actively engage and make a difference through their contribution, no matter how big or small.  However open and honest feedback, in a trusted environment, is the golden chalice which makes the difference between whether or not such a positive culture can prevail.  I am interested and fascinated by http://www.impraise.com model which I will investigate further as a facilitative feedback model.

Thank you to my hockey team mates for a key reflective point this Sunday.

Resources

http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/JohariWindow.htm

http://gregmckeown.com/essentialism-the-disciplined-pursuit-of-less/

http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/9780091935580

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