Towards teamwork amid physical distancing

  Times have changed. We now live in pandemic times. It started as Coronavirus, evolved into a pandemic, and now a keep a mask


Times have changed. We now live in pandemic times. It started as Coronavirus, evolved into a pandemic, and now a keep a mask on your face virus. Now more than ever, people are the real asset that can make a break a company in times like these.

Not finance. Not technology. Not lots of machinery. The most powerful tool that transforms organizations is people working as a team.

The ability to have all people in their respective departments rowing the canoe in the same direction is the key differentiator between a successful organization and a mediocre one. Teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage, better than any resource, including money.

Teamwork to an organization is like the blood that carries oxygen as well as fight infections to the human body. Without blood, the body will have no oxygen. And it will ultimately die.

A case in point

Imagine two people in a small canoe at Lake Victoria rowing a boat. To move ahead faster and swiftly, both of them must be rowing in the same direction. Now imagine one of them is rowing in the opposite direction. Will their movement be swift and faster?

Lack of teamwork in a business is like a car running on a small ‘spare tire’. Even if the car moves, it does not run at the speed it should be if the tire was the right one. The business may be moving ahead but it is usually at a slower pace.

According to Patrick Lencioni, there are six key killers of teamwork

  1. Lack of trust among team members
  2. Lack of a clear vision and targets
  3. Lack of accountability for results i.e. who is responsible for what
  4. Lack of resource commitment to attain the targets
  5. Lack of appropriate rewards and punishment based on performance; and
  6. Lack of proper structure and reporting

In this issue, I will focus on the teamwork killer #1: lack of trust.

The first measure of trust is the ability of team members to have a healthy conflict during meetings. Productive conflict arises when team members are free to air out sensitive issues in an objective manner for a solution by the team. These issues must then be discussed by determining the root cause until a common position is reached concerning a reasonable solution.

To create trust, team members must appreciate the overall interests and performance outcomes of the organization and make sure that it always comes ahead of the individual interests.

Exercise for the balanced scorecard champions

  1. Get the members of your team in one room
  2. Give each one of them a small piece of paper, and ask them to answer the following questions
    1. Staff name
    2. The district they come from & tribe
    3. Challenges growing up
    4. Schools attended and games played at school
    5. Major interests/hobbies
    6. 2018 personal dream e.g. travel to Dubai.
  3. Summarize the above information and check for staff with similar interests i.e. b, c, d, e, and f.
  4. Let staff talk briefly about their dreams and explore how achieving the enterprise scorecard targets would help staff achieve their dream.

Remember teamwork starts with trust. The Director must trust the manager, who must trust the supervisor and the reverse must hold true across all levels in the organization. There must not be any suspicions of the motives of the other person. At all times, enterprise vision must override any individual targets. The objective is to get everyone heading in the same direction, always.

In this period of physical distancing, leaders must prioritize people. Create incentives for teamwork through effective digital collaboration tools and deeper engagement with staff. Technology provides avenues for cross-functional engagements and collaboration. It should be optimized.

Ends.    ‘

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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