Today more research has been conducted on teams than ever before. From the optimal number of team members to the most important criteria for effective teams, we have a clear understanding of what it takes for a team to function. For countless reasons, teams are inherently more effective than individuals and are thus the cornerstone of any organization.
Although this is all familiar to us, we still continue to encounter dysfunctional teams. Instead of trust, these groups are characterized by competition, lack of alignment and even outright mistrust. Of course, such constellations are particularly pronounced and serious within an organization’s management team. There are usually three main reasons for this:
- In busy everyday life, there is simply not enough time to achieve true team alignment.
- There is a lack of understanding of how to shape individuals into a “high-performing” team.
- Each team member assumes they are professionals who know how to work well together.
From our point of view, it is crystal clear: You should definitely take the time to build a high-performing team. In addition, companies can learn from disciplines which require a well-functioning and coordinated team to survive. Professional mountaineers would never tackle a demanding summit without a detailed briefing and coordination within the team. Whether on a mountain or within a company, challenging endeavors require systematic preparation. To allow the next summit ascent, teams should therefore systematically ask themselves the following five questions. Indeed, their success may well depend on it.
- What kind of team or hiking group are we (“who”)?
What about our level of fitness, experience and eagerness to hike? In high-performing teams the members are aware of the different values, preferences and behavior patterns of the others. The mountain guide in turn exemplifies a growth mindset, thereby developing the team and serving as a role model.
- Which summit do we really want to ascend?
In terms of content, questions such as strategy, organization and culture must be determined. Above all, however, it is a question of your own aspirations, the altitude, difficulty and the mountain’s significance. Are we talking the Himalayas or Alps, Jochberg or the Eiger North Face? (also “what” and “why”).
- What hiking conditions can we expect?
Each team finds itself in a specific systemic context that forms the framework for the hike (“wherein”). Good teams adapt their equipment, support and guidance to the conditions in the best possible way. High-performing teams also do this with the well-known ability to look ahead.
- Which climbing route do we want to take (“how”)?
What is the best way to reach our destination when taking the environment and weather forecast into account? Which stages and milestones are still ahead of us? What is our alternative route in case things evolve differently along the way? Good teams have a common, clear and dynamic map.
- What is our modus operandi (“how“)?
What are our values, rules and routines? When and how do we give ourselves feedback? How do we make decisions? What training do we need? Successful teams develop a method of collaboration that allows individual skills and contributions to be synchronized in the best possible way, while simultaneously fostering the personal development of their members.
A systematic approach for improving team performance means taking these questions and answers from team members seriously. Taking time for regular self-reflection within the team, e.g. integrating it into existing routines, ensures that even new tasks are approached systematically.
We hope that our hiking map will help you find new trails and reach unimagined summits. In this spirit, good hike!
To enlarge the map, please click on the picture.