January 19, 2015

What Does a Great Team Feel Like?

Are you part of a Team in the workplace? Odds are the answer is "yes". Do you observe other Teams in your organization doing inspiring work and wonder how they do it? We talk a lot about the characteristics of great Scrum Teams, but what does it *feel* like to be on a great Scrum Team?

 

In my world of Agile Coaching, I dedicate my professional life to help Teams, Leaders and Organizations discover how to reach their full potential and gain a valuable competitive advantage in the marketplace. One of my favorite moments in this profession is when I get to witness Teams reach goals that help their organizations succeed in the marketplace. We talk a lot about having a sense of purpose (professional and personal) - you can probably guess what mine is. What is yours?

What does it mean for a great Team to have a sense of purpose?

After witnessing the improbable comeback by the Seattle Seahawks last night, I asked this question to my kids:
What would it feel like to be on that Team?

All I did was ask a single powerful question and off they went - thinking and surfacing insights that we should be so lucky to discover in our own organizations. Allow me the opportunity to share three of these insights from my family to you, so you can use these insights in the workplace to elevate your own Teams' performance.

 

1. A great Team feels like a family.

You hear this a lot in post-game interviews after an incredible victory. Remember Kevin Durant's MVP speech in 2014? Team members give up a lot of each other and create connections that build a sense of community. Some even refer to it *feeling* like a family. Imagine the bonds that are formed by great Teams in your organization ... these bonds allow for productive conflict, shared sacrifice, and collaboration to thrive --- characteristics of great Teams in the workplace.

 

2. A great Team feels the emotions of success and failure together.

In the NFL, this is an easy one to understand. Win games, lose games, learn & improve, then try again in an effort to reach higher levels of performance. Set measurable goals for the journey; get the next first down, win a game, win the next game, win the division, win the conference, then win the Super Bowl. Don't confuse the work with the goal; great Teams understand their work and their craft astonishingly well, but they also know how to channel the emotions of success and failure to their advantage. They continuously improve in an effort to reach the next goal on the horizon.

Sometimes these Teams feel the elation of success, but other times these same Teams feel the painful emotions of failure - think Russell Wilson (the Seahawks QB) who was having the worst game of his career with three minutes left in regulation. How did he and his Teammates handle that situation?

 

3. A great Team feels excitement by sharing its knowledge and skills.

Sure, we have skill players and this concept applies to Teams in the workplace. But for a Team to become great, it understands the strengths and motivations of each Team member and leverages those collective strengths when the situation calls for it.

Did you see the 3rd quarter fake field goal by the Seahawks? The play involved an undrafted rookie who had not caught a touchdown pass since high school and a punter who had never thrown a pass for a touchdown. Even if you're a Packers fan, you have to say "Wow" to that.

 

As you dive back into your work, consider internalizing this quote from Jermaine Kearse, the 'zero to hero' wide receiver from the game:
“Everything’s not going to be perfect. Life’s not going to be perfect. There’s always going to be downs. You are going to be tested and it’s how you respond to that adversity. When things aren’t good, it really tests your character.”

Are you part of a great Team in the workplace? What does it feel like to you? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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I really appreciate you taking time to read this post. If you learned something new or were inspired in any way, please consider sharing with your colleagues so we can collectively make a difference in organizations of all shapes and sizes. Scrum On!

I also teach, mentor and coach People, Teams and Organizations to high levels of performance in an Agile environment. Want to experience some of my teachings in person? I would be privileged to collaborate with you at one of my upcoming events.

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