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Points from Prof Peter Hawkins’ Talk at Civil Service College 20 Apr 2011

I was very glad to have been able to attend the talk on “Developing High Performance Teams: The role of Leadership Team Coaching” on 20 Apr 2011 at the Civil Service College. It was certainly very enjoyable, and I would like to record a few points that came to me while it was going on.

The points I would like to record are:

1.  Formation of Teams.

2.  Purpose of Team Meetings.

3.  Relational “spaces” between teams.

4.  TEAM 360° profiling and TEAM KPIs.

1.  Formation of Teams.

The first point I remember was the assertion that teams are not formed to address problems or needs, it’s the other way round – problems or needs cause teams to form. To me, it sounded like “necessity is the mother of invention”, or some similar phrase. For a large, “established” organization with a well-defined Table of Organization and Establishment (TO & E), this might be something of an issue when it comes to organizational expansion plans, leadership pipelines, ROAs, resource allocation, ad infinitum. Of course, organizations get around this by “job enlargement”, “secondary appointments”, and other noble-sounding terms which, I suspect, are all bent on squeezing the last drop of energy from their hapless minions. Now, if we would only go along the line of having everyone function at no more than 2/3 capacity on an average day, we might find that we actually do have the resources to function optimally when called upon to serve in teams formed to address issues and problems, or if there is a surge in business volume. This approach would allow for the retention of current conventionally-structured organizations while still according them the flexibility of available resources to tackle issues, needs and problems.

2.  Purpose of Team Meetings.

An excellent point brought across was that the purpose of team meetings is NOT to update each other on current operations, etc., but for decision-making based on generative thinking. While I have often belaboured this point, I have yet to experience such a team meeting. Having shared workspaces and scheduling decision-making and generative thinking meetings deliberately would go a long way to ensure that team meetings are actually productive and moving in the right strategic direction. Of course, team members need to have the necessary discipline both to update their team members as well as get themselves updated before the team meetings themselves. This will not only reduce the time required for team meetings but ensure that they result in policies, initiatives and actions that propel the business forward.

3.  Relational “spaces” between teams.

“Team building” programs usually focus on getting teams to function as a thinking organism would. Professor Hawkins asked if anyone paid any attention to the “spaces” between the teams. I immediately thought of synapses and the synaptic fluid between nerves. Truly, if those were not functioning properly, chaos would result. Not only would it be important for the team leaders to establish and maintain cohesiveness with each other, the different teams need to do so as well. HOW that is to be accomplished when teams are scattered across the globe would need some working on, but I strongly believe that the team leaders would make a lot of difference in whether organizational cohesiveness is achieved and maintained or otherwise.

4.  TEAM 360° profiling and TEAM KPIs.

I was rather surprised that this should have been raised, as I have always been working in environments where these were of paramount importance. Team assessments with teams of 30, 100 or 500 were what I have been dealing with for many years, and it has always been apparent that, in the final analysis, it is not how good the individuals in the team are that really count, but the strength of the team as a whole.

All in all, I thought it was a great session, thanks to Goh Thee Woon of Coach Republic, who invited us in the first place. So, next time you have a team meeting, make sure that it is generative in nature, and move forward!

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