How To Create And Sustain High Achieving Teams

Firstly, dispel the myth that there is no “I” in Teams

You may be using a traditional or agile approach to creating and sustaining teams – whatever approach you are using requires individuals to be the central cog of teamwork. I often hear the saying that ‘there is no “I” in teams’. However, if we do not look after the needs of the individuals, play to their strengths we may have a team for a short period of time but we will not get sustained synergy and effective problem-solving then individuals may move on.

What are the needs and motivators of individuals that coaching leaders should be aware of?

1. Work Engagement

The first set of intrinsic motivators or rewards to be aware of were identified by Kenneth Thomas and later became included into an assessment called the Work Engagement Profile. This was developed in collaboration with Professor Walter Tymon.

To be engaged at work people desire a sense of:

“Meaningfulness: the opportunity you perceive to pursue a worthy work purpose

Choice: the opportunity you perceive to select activities that make sense to you and to
perform them in ways that seem appropriate

Competence: the accomplishment you experience in skilfully performing the activities
you have chosen

Progress: the accomplishment you experience in advancing toward the work purpose.”

Kenneth Thomas & Walter Tymon, Work Engagement Interpretive Report.

​How often do we, as leaders, stop and think about where each of our individual team members are in relation to the above four intrinsic rewards? Sometimes our pace of work and change initiatives can overtake the importance of where each individual (“I”) is at in relation to these four motivators. One-on-one and/or group coaching conversations are a great opportunity to explore these intrinsic rewards.
Further information on the above four motivators and how they impact our engagement culture can be found at this link.

The Work Engagement Profile is a self-assessment that can be purchased at the Myers Briggs Company and does not require accreditation. Here is a link to an example of an interpretative report.

2. The importance of each Individual in your team

Beyond promoting engagement at work, we can contribute to every person’s well-being by remembering that each of us has a desire for the following:

Sense of autonomy: This requirement of individuals is quite similar to the sense of ‘choice’ identified by Kenneth Thomas in the first section above. However, it is also about being able to make independent decisions. Dr David Rock has identified ‘autonomy’ as a key element in his ‘SCARF’ model for maximising reward and minimising threat as perceived by our brains. As leaders we should not be micro-managing our team members. The sense of autonomy is also important when we manage change as this can impact on how the initiative is received and the feelings of threat for the person. See this link here.

Sense of belonging: This is a basic human need that starts in childhood and helps create our identity and the ability to learn healthy coping skills. In the workplace we want to know that we ‘belong’ to a group/team and organisation – this helps to define our definition of ourselves and out identity. Having a sense of belonging at work provides us with a degree of psychological safety and contributes to our engagement.

Māori people of New Zealand have a term called ‘Whanaungatanga’ – Kinship, a sense of belonging, relationship through shared experiences and working together.

Sense of being valued: Each of us is a unique human being with differing skills, experiences and strengths. Our sense of self-worth also starts in childhood and can assist us, or work against us in how we feel about ourselves in our work. An effective coaching leader will know their team members in order to appreciate and play to their strengths. When we don’t acknowledge the positive contribution people make to the organisation, they feel under-valued and this can lead to a drop in engagement and performance.

Sense of being respected: I believe every person should treat other individuals with dignity and respect. This means acknowledging their presence and actively listening to what people have to say. This is closely linked to being valued, where we acknowledge and respect the individual strengths and contributions each person makes.

For the sense of being valued and respected, Māori people of New Zealand have a term that encompasses these called ‘Manaakitanga’ – showing respect, generosity and care for others. Manaakitanga is often chosen as a value for New Zealand organisations.

Ensure that your people strategy and processes support the intrinsic motivators and needs of individuals. As coaching leaders, the above factors should be front of mind as we interact with our teams on a daily basis.

​So, promote the “I” in teams as the central cog for effective teamwork outlined below as it enables an increase in individual’s energy, satisfaction and fulfilment.

  • What aspects of the teamwork inner cog are you doing most effectively?
  • What aspects of the teamwork inner cog are you struggling with the most?
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