Leaders need to be on the lookout for trouble in their teams, and at the same time it is vital to give space for the voices in the team members to be heard In 1979, the San Francisco 49ers American Football team were mediocre at best and had been since they were founded in 1946. They hadn’t won anything of note, and the owners appointed a new coach, Bill Walsh, to help turn their fortunes around. Within two years, the 49ers won their first Super Bowl, and under Walsh’s leadership went on to win two more – a total of three Super Bowl titles in under ten years. Walsh wrote a book about how he led the 49ers through this golden age – and it is the title of the book that is worth mentioning: The Score Takes Care of Itself. Chasing the scoreboard only gets you so far – true greatness becomes easier if you focus your effort on what’s going on in the team. Every business leader will know exactly where the team is on their own scoreboard. Paying attention to the measures of success and the work that the organisation does will be a familiar focus for them. But if the team isn’t functioning at an optimum level, if relationships are weak and behaviour toxic, then there is a greater chance the business results will drop – potentially into the red. It’s important to be aware of two red zones – one for business results, but also one for the team’s dynamic – the team’s health. There is a symbiotic relationship between team health and business results. Walsh knew this, and studies by organisations like Google, MIT and others, using technology and data that were not available to Walsh back in the 80s, is backing up what his gut told him. Get the team functioning, and the results will come easier. Dysfunctional teams will always struggle to deliver results. What constitutes a red zone for your team’s health, as opposed to your KPI red zone? And what do you do about it? The first thing to remember is that every person on a work team is there by choice. They choose the job, and every day, they are choosing whether to engage and give their all, in service of the team’s goals – or not. This is the fundamental challenge and opportunity for team leaders. If there are reasons for people to choose not to do the work, then they won’t. Leaders must answer the WIIFM question in the heads and hearts of their team members what’s in it for me – and remove the roadblocks that stand in the way of people doing their best. It is harder to measure team health, which is often why it gets overlooked. Also, it can be perceived as the softer, fluffier side of things and unnecessary – if results are being delivered, then that’s all that matters. Leaders who think this way are at best, missing an opportunity and at worse, causing damage to their teams. Yes, you can achieve results whilst carrying dysfunctional teams, but at what price in terms of stress, conflict and confusion, and for how long? Team leaders need to be aware of the health of the relationships that gel their teams together. We can all describe couples we know in our personal lives in terms like ‘they have a beautiful marriage’ or ‘they have a stormy relationship’. What we are noticing and articulating is the relationship, and not the individuals within it. Work teams are the same, in that they have an interconnected relationship which is an entity that can be healthy or unhealthy, and which can be paid attention to and consciously worked on, just like a relationship in a marriage or a family. The first step towards improving things is creating awareness within the team over what is going on. Having the courage to openly discuss what is happening and giving people the opportunity to share what they are feeling and thinking about the relationship issues is important. It might be daunting, but it is vital to give space for the voices in the team to be heard. From here, you can start to work through the issues and seek commitment to different behaviour. Agreeing a charter or protocol of behaviour – what is allowed/expected and what is not gives guidance and a framework to hold people accountable to. Then it’s a case of walking the talk as you move forward with your team, calling out bad behaviour and praising good. All of this will help leaders increase positivity within the team, build stronger relationships, create greater clarity, and answer that vital question – what’s in it for me – that will help them avoid the red zone and ultimately allow the score to take care of itself. The proportion of employees in the GCC who said their workload has significantly increased over the past 12 months, according to a new research by the Talent Enterprise 48% Unity. Team leaders need to be aware of the health of the relationships that gel their teams together Working in tandem There is a symbiotic relationship between team health and business results.

Source: CEO Middle East

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