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DELIVER or DIE – ‘The Devil Is In Execution’

Teams must deliver what they are accountable for, simple. If not, disband and form a new team. When it comes to developing the capacity of management, cross-functional, production or project teams, the focus on selection and development of team members is primarily on having the right blend of knowledge and skill, with a consideration for personality and cultural fit – sometimes. Teams usually engage in strategy sessions, collectively committing to objectives and ways to work together more collaboratively and effectively, and then go back to the office and, “it’s business as usual”. No change, so what’s the problem? Leadership & team development relating to 5 critical issues.

  • Communication – Team members often still work in silos and do not communicate with each other as they should. For the most part, communication is reactive vs. proactive, defensive vs. trusting. Deliberate operational ‘people touch points’ don’t exist and need to be established. Relevant people must ‘get in touch’ on a daily / weekly basis to share relevant information and plan for priorities and action. It’s an opportunity to cross check understanding, expectations and prevent assumptions.  It’s not what you say but how you say it that matters. Communication happens at the psychological level, not at the verbal level. Latest research has proved unequivocally that communication is the single most important success factor for all teams.
  • Attitude – Conflict, competition, and politics shut down cooperation, collaboration, communication, and compromise, the 4 key elements of effective teamwork. The root cause is attitude, how you feel about self & others. It’s a case of either; “I’m OK & You’re not OK”, meaning “Get Rid Of”. Or “I’m not OK & You’re OK”, meaning “Get Away From”. Or “I’m not OK & You’re not OK”, meaning “Get Nowhere With”. The right attitude for making things happen, getting things done is, “I’m OK & You’re OK”, that means, “Get on With”.  You determine your attitude, no one else. It is always reflected in your actions. What’s on the inside always shows on the outside. ‘The way you do anything, is the way you do everything!’
  • Contracting/Agreements – Execution is a function of effective explicit agreements, an interpersonal contract between two people. Unfortunately this is the area where assumption reigns supreme. It is where individual and mutual accountability manifest itself or not. Due to a lack of understanding how to manage agreements, it is one of the most prevailing weaknesses of the execution process. Part of the problem is that some personality styles have an inherent fear of giving feedback when things are not happening. The issue is risk. It’s either a fear of making themselves vulnerable, or exposing their own commitment or also getting feedback on themselves from the other person. So, the safest thing to do is to avoid feedback. Adult feedback is part and parcel of effective agreements. It builds TRUST, the basis of all good relationships!
  • Operant Conditioning – Operant conditioning is a behavioural process that is focused on recognizing and rewarding desired behaviours when they occur or soon after they have occurred. That increases the probability of people repeating those behaviours. Unfortunately the opposite is also true, punishing undesired behaviours and is the practice in most teams, unwittingly. It deals with the modification of “voluntary behaviour” in a particular environment and is maintained by its consequences. It makes use of the most powerful form of human motivation called ‘stroking’ and is an effective way of establishing new behavioural norms (healthy habits) that are related to what needs to be achieved.
  • Coordination – Focused and deliberate effort to make sure teamwork takes place as it should is an inescapable reality. Someone, either inside or outside the team must dedicate a minimum number of hours per month for this role – officially part of the person’s job. Not a casual role. This does not happen at all in most teams, a huge mistake and will impact execution negatively.

Source:   Intégro Learning SA.; Johan Cronjé, Specialist team performance coach. Based on empirical evidence working with teams across a wide range of industries over the last 35 years.