Above And Beyond The Family Photo

Affaires Plus – October 2007
By Nicole Côté

One of the first things a newly appointed leader does is create and present his team. This gesture generally arouses hope which could be lost if we did not look beyond the family picture.

A famous Irish actor who was marrying his girlfriend of a number of years said to his guests at the reception: «We have asked a large number of you to come to this ceremony, in order to assist us in staying together». His statement surprised a number of the guests considering that in these types of occasions, we rarely talk about the difficulties that are to come when forming either a couple or a team.

It is false to believe that if we have a good recipe and the good ingredients that the chemistry will magically appear in the team. As a matter of fact, one of a leader’s largest challenges will be in creating a working synergy amongst their employees. If we want to assist them in overcoming these challenges, we must review with our leaders certain base principles and assist them in putting them into practice.

• It isn’t sufficient to form a consensus on a definition of «us» for the us to exist.

The «I» is a prerequisite to the «us» and for a true team to form, all of the individuals forming the group must be aware of who they are, their needs and opinions, and speak to one another in a clear and respectful manner. Through these authentic exchanges, a strong «us» can emerge. Without this, the “us” remains a mere illusion or even worse a prison.

• If we really want to work in a team, we must give ourselves the means as well as the ambitions.

The responsibility of creating the desire to form a team and to put in place the conditions that would permit the team to flourish falls to the leader and requires that the leader put in time, reflection and an emotional investment. Many teams don’t “get off the ground” as they don’t give themselves the proper formats, the proper frequency of meetings, or because their meetings aren’t sufficiently interesting and don’t provide enough benefits to those who participate.

• Confidence isn’t a prerequisite of working in a team but is the result of effective communication.

To start speaking to one another, all you need is to be positive, a couple of game rules and the occasion to meet. The earlier the better. Once the leader has chosen the members of his team, it’s best to sit them down at the table as quickly as possible so that they begin to know one another and exchange ideas in a stimulating, structured and non menacing environment. It is this efficient and respectful communication which will little by little increase confidence in team members and lead to their undertaking to do what is necessary.

• If the leader is not ready to share his responsibilities and power, the team will never exist.

Dictators don’t work in teams. As a matter of fact, for the exchanges between members to bear fruit, it is necessary for all team members to state their truth and hear the truth of others, to influence and to be influenced. Without this, the meetings will be no more than an exercise of submission, of blah blahing or political flutter.

• When a team undertakes the process of reflection upon its own proper functioning, it could be beneficial to use the services of a coach.

The presence of a consultant frees up the leader’s responsibility of having to animate the exchanges and allows the leader the leisure of concentrating on his proper functions. It also enables the consultant to examine the team’s characteristics: the good and the bad. Finally, a coach can play an important and crucial role in the indispensable learning of authentic, correct and constructive communications. Easy you say? Then please explain why there are so few committees that constitute exemplary teams.