7 minutes reading time (1438 words)

Team Dynamics - It's Not Time Yet?

With the Grey Cup Championship just around the corner at the end of the week, the moment of truth for the final two teams – the Ottawa Red Blacks and the Edmonton Eskimos – has arrived. Next Sunday the real test of Team Dynamics will be apparent. All the individual training, the personal commitments and the individual talents of each player and coach better be at 100%, in a unified, true team effort in order to win the ultimate prize and be crowned the Grey Cup Champions.


Up until the game, there will be festivities, there will be interviews, there will be predictions, and still more preparation by each of the teams and their respective coaches. The success of the game and the experience by the fans during the week, will be scrutinized by the owners, management, the many committees and chairs as a means of achieving success. 

“Despite the outcome of the game, the visiting fans had a great time!  Regardless of the score, the concert series was a true hit! Unlike the past Grey Cups, this 103rd was truly memorable!”  

These are all examples of statements that may very well be uttered as a means of claiming success on some front.  However, the teams themselves, despite the many key performance indicators they may think about, will only achieve success (or failure) by that final score at the end of the fourth quarter. Period. 

Aren’t we glad (or lucky) that as business organizations, all does not ride on one sole event? Every organization has Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are measured, assessed, discussed and ultimately used as the tools to measure true success at the end of the fiscal year. If success does not seem as planned, adjustments are made to make sure, or to attempt to guarantee success for the company, as planned.

Many changes can be made – dropping product lines or service offerings, expanding markets, cutting overhead, or changing processes – all in the attempt to ensure success. So let’s explore just one of these changes that are often made – changing people. Let’s define changing people as:

  1. Removing people and then bringing in different people, and
  2. Working with the same people and assisting them with change.
  3. Then if working with the same people doesn’t work, go back and enact #1.

When we look at the dynamics of the People Change (much like on a football team) changes are made to add a skill-set that is missing and is needed. Whether the skill set is trained, nurtured and coached into an existing employee/ player or whether is it hired in from outside the company, the work does not stop there. In fact, now the work really begins. If the new skillset is not embraced, further developed and let to grow and impact true progress, the entire exercise is futile!

This is a key element that is often misplaced and forgotten. New talent is brought in or an employee is given a training program, but continual assessment does not occur.

The 5 typical scenarios that ensure failure – regardless of the type of People Change  - are as follows:

  1. Lack of an On Boarding Strategy – The individual is brought in, introduced to the senior team and his/ her own team, provided a desk and a shiny new laptop, given access to the Intranet that has all the many manuals of how the company works, and he/ she is left on their own. Done. Log in. Grab a coffee. Read as much as you can. See you at the next meeting! A 90 Day interactive peer to peer plan with the participation of both the Senior Business Leader and the peers and subordinates being actively involved is necessary to ensure real engagement and attachment by all involved.

  2. Team Dynamics Are Left to Chance – A Director is brought in, and his/ her team is simply expected to fall in line and follow along. “If he/ she is a good leader, he/she will figure it out!” Great, successful organizations allow for a focused Team Dynamics training session – immediately! Assessing each team member, assessing the new Director, sharing the results and then building upon all the information allows the team to immediately learn about the new team member and each other and how the dynamics may have changed. 

  3. “We did that program last year!” Many companies have professional development programs and paths for employees that they participate in and then check off as being complete. The Binder is on the shelf. However, often, perhaps always, the teachings are not practiced and people revert to their old ways. Add in a few new people into the mix and suddenly the learnings could also disappear. Have the group take the program again! As we know in sport teams and in training programs to create a new physical well-being, you have to go to the gym and train on a regular basis. So why do we think, as along as an employee has taken the course once we are done? If there are issues with individuals and team performance or objectives are not being achieved, then dust off the binders and refresh and redo the programs.  Team dynamics do not just happen over time.

  4. “We are in a state of chaos or flux  - now is not the time!” You bet it is! We don’t really know how our employees are handling the chaos or flux or change unless we ask them and work with them. A change management plan is more than a communication plan – it is an action plan to get people through the change, over it and beyond it! Too often organizations put off training for teams, because it does not appear to be the right time. This in the end often means it is put off indefinitely and in the meantime, good people leave, good people brought in are frustrated and people who have been there a longer time simply duck, melt into the background of everyday tasks, hoping that it will all blow over until the next change and hopefully nothing more will be asked of them.

  5. “Fear of what is about to happen is real and not addressed!” Different Strategies can be used to bring in new skill-sets or address skills that are no longer required. One such strategy, offering a volunteer retirement plan as means of changing people out and having them self-select is a great strategy to allow new blood in and encourage those who have already quit, but have not left the building, to continue to their next phase or adventure. Now, again the real work starts. Employees from other areas of the company will transfer in and new people will be hired to fill the gaps. Great! On paper the work is complete and all roles are filled. However, the team now needs to gel, to meld together, to learn how to work together and to understand what this new Leader is all about. Teams that have had numerous leaders over a very short period of time or who have lost tenured employees and now must work with new ones, are in an emotional upheaval. If not addressed, this can cause damage to the success that the organizations was trying to go after in the first place by these changes!

Essentially, the time is now! Organizations do not have a one-time championship that is coming up, like the Grey Cup at the end of every CFL season. Organizations must measure success on a daily, weekly and eventually a yearly basis and then repeat. The Ottawa Red Blacks and The Edmonton Eskimos have all year to prepare for that final championship and must continually adapt, and work towards creating the Team Dynamic that will win the games, that will get them to the Grey Cup and ultimately to become the champions. Period. 

Organizations must act now and make it a priority. It is the right time to focus on your team, if you are looking for success. It is the right time to focus on your team, if you are that true leader. If the binder on the shelf is full of dust, your team is not performing 100%, you have had new members join your team, or you are the new leader of the team – the time is now. Team Dynamics could make or break your success and the organization’s success. 

Let’s face it, next Sunday, it will feel really GOOD for the final teams to talk about all the ‘good stuff‘ that happened during the game and during the season, but it will feel really GREAT to say – “We Won!”

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