The Oarsome Foursome is the nickname for an Australian men’s rowing coxless four crew who competed in all Olympics between 1990 and 2012 and won numerous medals for Australia. They enter the history books as an elite rowing team and are an excellent example of team effectiveness.
In the book Better Coaching: Advanced Coaching Manual, The Australian Sports Commission delves into the success of the Oarsome Foursome and what made them such an effective team. Their coach Neil Donaldson had his work cut out for him as each athlete came to the team with their own rowing experience, their own health problems, their own training needs and their own preferences to training. Noels job was to bring all of this unique talent and styles and bring them together to create a rowing powerhouse.
A people manager is tasked with the same responsibilities, but unlike a rowing team the team needs to pull together and perform at its peak each working day not just for a series of races every four years. Despite the best efforts of leaders there are times the ‘oars fall in the water” and a leader needs to navigate their team to calmer waters.
Happening people have pulled together our Top 5 on How to Improve Team Effectiveness to help steady the boat and drive your business to the winner’s podium.
1. Gain a more in-depth understanding of all members in the team
You know yourself when a new team is formed it takes a while for the ‘ice to break’ and for you to feel comfortable with the members of your team. The more you get to know them the easier and more at ease you are doing your job role. As a manager one of your roles in improving team effectiveness is to make sure that the team move through this phase quickly and easily to facilitate their cohesiveness. There are infinite number of ways to do this some of these include regular team lunches away from work, games that focus on ‘getting to know you’ and using a few minutes of your team meeting to focus on one team member who gets to ‘introduce themselves’ and talk about their passions outside of work.
2. Identify effective methods of working together and how to implement these
You do not need to have all the answers, most likely your team does! Take the time to meet with them individually and collectively and find out what it means to them to work with a team and what ideas they have that can be implemented to improve team dynamics. You may be surprised at the hugely varied responses they can provide as well as the level of detail. Hot Tip: The team is more likely to be successful when they are given the opportunity to work together the way they agreed upon rather than having it decided for them.
3. Gain a greater understanding of other team members’ expectations and needs
No two team members have the same expectations and needs, there may be similarities like expectations around respect and fairness, but even your definition of these concepts will differ from another team member based on your own experience. Jane might think its ok to be half an hour late to work because she has to drop her twins at day care but Anna might think it’s outrageous as she has to tend to a sick husband at home and still makes sure she is at work on time. These areas of conflict can be addressed by working with the team to come up with a set of team values that will help govern behaviour.
4. Develop a common understanding of job roles
One of the reasons great teams are so great is that each team member knows what the other one role is. Think of a soccer team, each team member is given a place on the team based on their skill and ability and they must carry out that role to the very best of their ability whilst supporting the other team members to achieve theirs. If the goal keeper is too busy being the striker then they will not be in position to defend the goal when needed and the competition will inch closer to a win. The same applies to business teams. All team members need to do their job to a high standard and support other team members to do their jobs to an equally high standard.
5. Improve interaction, collaboration and fun
There are many team building activities that you can get underway that will help bring the team together through a renewed understanding of each other. Some of these include International food day at work where team members celebrate their uniqueness and cook a meal that represents their heritage to share with the team. There are also many group activities like sailing, bowling, cross city treasure hunts and corporate rowing teams.
Simple things like sweepstakes in races such as the Melbourne Cup, fund raising or themed team lunches in the boardroom can inject fun into the workplace.
These are our top 5 in the early stages of team development, other important aspects of team effectiveness include a clear vision, goal setting and excellent communication – to name a few.
Over the years Happening People have run a very successful range of ‘Team’ based Corporate training programs which are very popular with organisations as they strive to gain the upper hand in today’s competitive market. Happening People’s programs include Conflict Resolution and Team Effectiveness and Growth. All programs can be tailored to your individual team and needs or a new program uniquely your own can be created. To find out more click on the links above or call Happening People on 1800 68 67 69 or go to www.happeningpeople.com