What is "Team Harmony?"
Team Harmony. Some have defined a team as a small number of people, with complementary skills who are committed to shared values, a common purpose, performance goals and business approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable (1). However, achieving true team harmony that leads to exceptional performance outcomes can be easier said than done.
Some even believe that the pursuit of team harmony can get in the way of team growth and performance. It can narrow the space required for opportunity creation which feeds off institutionalized vulnerability. It can dampen individual freedom to act.
Providing a safe space for an appropriate measure of "healthy" conflict or "dis-harmony" can be the secret sauce for the innovation required to keep the team out in front.
- Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams has spent a career exploring the wisdom of teams and why some team's don't work. And, he has observed just how unskilled team leaders can be at creating the conditions for successful team harmony.
In our experience, many times team members don’t even agree on what the team's primary purpose is let alone what they are supposed to be doing day-to-day to achieve that purpose.
And, we have found that if the team leader is trying to manage for "consensus" they must be willing to take great personal and professional risks. They have the additional burden of setting a compelling strategic direction while ensuring there is clarity of performance expectations for daily execution at the individual and team level that links to that direction.
If the team leader isn’t disciplined about managing the conditions for team membership and how the team is structured, the odds are not good for the team to out-perform over the long run.(2)
In his book Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances, Hackman shares five (5) conditions necessary for successful teamwork.
How many of these five conditions are alive and well on your team today?
- The team must be a real team, rather than a team in name only
- It has to have compelling direction for its work
- It has to have an enabling structure that facilitates teamwork
- It needs to operate within a supportive context
- It has to have expert teamwork coaching
This last point hits home. Sometimes it takes working with someone who has been there before, a true "team" coach, that can go deeper than the team's daily practice management needs.
But, beware of the “robo-coach." In our experience, a good team coach works closely with your team on-site from the initial discovery stage through the implementation stage and takes a hands-on role to ensure you get the outcomes you desire.
A good team coach see things in you that you cannot see for yourself. They help you find your individual and team purpose and help you reach beyond where you thought you could go.
They help you to communicate & collaborate and by doing so achieve what you could not do alone. They help you remove the obstacles to performance that result in your highest possible performance outcomes.
And, most importantly they are seen as a core member of your team by your entire team.