For the first time in my life I am dealing with back pain. I have no idea how I hurt myself, but I do know, I hurt myself. There is something about being immobile that really makes you grateful for mobility. I am 100% sure that I will be fine soon and resume all my normal activities within a matter of a few short weeks (hopefully days!). I decided to use a chiropractor to get me back to top form, again, this is a first for me. One of the first things Dr. Dan said to me is “The immediate focus is to alleviate the pain, then we will do strengthening work to support the corrective measures and elevate mobility.” As I thought about this, and being a big proponent of teamwork, I immediately thought of how that one comment by Dr. Dan summed up what most workplace managers and leaders need to do: Alleviate to Elevate.
You don’t need to be in a large corporation or business to be considered a team. Some of the most dysfunctional teams I’ve worked with were small groups of three or four. However, the process of restoring high performance is the same whether it’s 3 or 30 and it all starts with a few key factors.
Alleviate the Pain
Diagnosis is the first step in eradicating pain. It might be as simple as taking an Alleve, or as complex as a full-blown process of prolonged therapy. So what is keeping you up at night? What are your employees doing that you want to see more of? Less of? What is the one thing you would delegate to someone else to “handle” regarding the management of your personnel? What are some of the causes of why the team is broken? Ineffective leadership? Poor conflict management? Lack of trust among members? A number of “aha’s” may show themselves as you diagnose, that’s fine. Below are some steps you can take to arrive at healing and peak performance. (taken from Joe Frontiera and Dan Leidl managing partners at Meno Consulting)
ASK THE TEAM
The best, easiest, quickest way to find out all that ails you, is to ASK THE TEAM! This will allow the leader an opportunity to gain input and insight from his/her colleagues and additionally,will provide individuals with a valued and integral voice.
CREATE A VISION
Once the leader has gathered information from team members and publicly acknowledged past missteps, it’s time to plan moving forward and create a vision of what the team can become. This allows leaders leverage opportunities to rally their team around a common goal. In having the team be part of the creation process a leader will experience an even distribution of responsibility and ownership of the plan and this will ensure continual progress.
ARTICULATE THE PLAN
Most people not only want to know where they’re going, but they want to know how to get there. Articulating a good plan of action can inspire broader confidence the larger vision is attainable, and knowing what steps need to be taken can help team members set personal and timely goals that can help propel the group forward.
DEFINE NEW BEHAVIORS
Now is the time when leaders explicitly detail the behaviors that will lead to success. This is not micromanagement. In fact, clear expectations about appropriate behaviors can reduce anxiety among a team with a new leader, as they can knowingly work towards what is expected of them.
HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE
Execution is now critical. Both the leader and team members have the potential to derail execution. The quickest way for a leader to disrupt execution is by modeling behaviors that differ from those he or she outlined. This will lead to loss of trust and the team understands the leader is not serious about change, the established plan, vision, etc. The team also can derail execution, most specifically by reverting to past behaviors. By immediately and effectively addressing undesired behaviors, a leader can reinforce his/her message and further ingrain the newly defined behaviors.
Finally, with any change initiative, it is important to celebrate success. This enables the team to see the changes are working. Initially, a leader may need to look hard, because positive traction can be difficult to find. Yet recognizing small successes with individuals and the group can boost a team’s morale and confidence. Inevitably, smaller successes lead to larger, more tangible triumphs.
Just as my journey along the road to recovery will take time, so yours will too. The initial actions above will help alleviate the challenges, the rest then strengthens the team to help support an elevated performance. Be patient, be persistent. Focus on the effort and results will always follow.