“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year”
Team problem solving has many advantages for the individuals involved, some of which are greater output reduced bias, increased risk taking and higher commitment. At Rothwell Douglas, we provide team consulting courses that sees us work with teams to improving team functioning, resolving team conflict and embedding critical thinking to produce effective problem-solving.
Our Team Consulting Service
We consider teamwork as one of the most important aspects of a smooth and successful running operation. Increasingly however, it’s also about the team’s capability to manage change within the environment whilst continuing to deliver on the current contract.
Communication is by far the single biggest issue we deal with in helping teams improve their performance. This is largely because it
underpins successful relationship building which is vital to bottom line success. Employees will learn how to support each other when the team is under pressure and how to play to one another’s strengths. Focusing on the individual capabilities of the team and assessing their dynamics we can help the team identify where there is room for improvement. Looking at the context and workflow of their part of the organisation, we can help them assimilate more productive ways of working into their day to day agenda. In other words, our aim is to help teams re-define Business as Usual at a higher benchmark level than the present and then to help them move toward it.
These are some of the valued work that we do as part of our team consulting process, in order to improve and help team development:
- Improving forecasting, planning, coordination and risk management.
- Setting out clear expectations for performance, holding people to account and tackling poor performance.
- Eliminating waste and non-value-adding activity that takes time and attention away from the important issues.
- Streamlining processes and ways of working to achieve higher standards and consistency in approach.
- Identifying and gathering quality information and using it intelligently.
- Preparing well in advance of important meetings to improve the quality of information and reporting to ensure a balanced and informed approach between the operational and strategic.
- Being open to new and alternative ways of achieving success; challenging our own thinking and ways of doing things.
- Providing frank, honest and timely feedback in a way that helps people improve.
- Playing to our strengths and actively manage our weaknesses and limitations.
- Focussing on the bigger picture, identify the key priorities and avoiding process for process. sake. STOP (Step back; Think; Organise thoughts; Proceed).
- Creating time and space to think creatively together and find innovative solutions.
- Tapping into the strengths and talents of staff, developing and building their confidence.
Throughout these processes, our team consulting programme helps team members develop essential skills including emotional competence and negotiating and influencing. We use our understanding of behaviour to help develop effective leadership and role clarity within teams to ensure flexibility and agility in responding to a constantly changing environment. Leaders who are well supported by high performing teams are empowered to reach out and form winning collaborative partnerships. Partnerships that help build the business intelligence, manage supply chain relations better and enable the organisation to be on the ‘front foot’ of service development and innovation are value adding competencies.
Systems typically comprise of many leaders and business lines with different roles and responsibilities. Although their organisations are frequently co-dependent for the delivery of services such as Public Sector bodies, they frequently struggle with competing priorities. Using team consulting we work to help unite these leaders around a common purpose to ensure they have a shared vision. This is the ‘golden
thread’ of the new narrative leaders will need to be able to communicate to the workforce in bringing them on board with the changes ahead. The investment required by senior leaders in making new partnerships work effectively is frequently under-estimated both in terms of time and skills. Our experience and the evidence of business psychology suggests that it is not ‘moving toward something new’ that people find difficult, but ‘moving away from something that is old and familiar’ that can be self – defeating. The inability to ‘let go’ and empower others to make decisions and commit resources at a lower level in the organisation is frequently the reason for a lack of pace in change processes and ultimately, failure to deliver. This coupled with the ‘clash of cultures’ is one of the most cited reasons for failed mergers, acquisitions and system integrations – it wasn’t the strategy, it was the culture! Helping people understand the strengths between them and the gaps in terms of culture enable us to bring insight to new partnerships. We help them understand the nature of these differences, how to use their strengths in a complementary way and to address differences that may hold them back from achieving on their
Helping teams understand the life cycle of team dynamics is an important team development insight. Teams go through natural phases of their development –Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning ( first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965). Why is this important? Its importance stems from the fact that teams behave quite differently during these natural stages of development and their team needs change. At the ‘storming’ stage for example a team will need much more understanding of one another and an ability to coach and be supportive toward each other as they go through a period of challenging one another and also the leadership of the team as they determine direction, responsibilities, control and roles. This is a period in which the Leader will need to take time to handle individual’s uncertainties and deal with the disruptive behaviours of one or two as the team begins to understand itself and its agenda with a degree of acceptance and accommodation. Most people will recognise this period in their own experience of having lived through a team coming together. It can be stressful, personally challenging and potentially destructive if not handled well.
Team development is not something that can take place in isolation of the work environment. Whilst some important concepts and skills benefit from protected time and space to practise and improve techniques, ultimately it will be the implementation in the work place that determines rate of progress. Teams need to become competent and consistent in the new behaviours that will help sustain them. The danger is otherwise that the team practise one thing and end up doing another – i.e. they don’t change – they simply talk about change. We promote and Action learning approach toward Team Development which enables the team to work on these critical competencies and reflect on what is going well in their work environment and what needs to be improved and worked on further. The reflection and learning is not only helpful to the current situation but is a strategic leadership competence that defines high performing teams. Teams that are functioning effectively at a relationship and emotional intelligence level, outperform teams that are ridden with internal squabbles and hidden agendas. Their recruitment ‘churn’ is less as they retain high performing individuals who want to be part of the team and its success.
Their continuity and consistency of purpose moves them toward a Continuous Improvement ethos which improves innovation rates and reduces failure costs.
During our team consulting process, we are frequently asked to help teams improve their performance to very senior levels in the
organisation because they are struggling with some quite basic but fundamental issues. They are what author Patrick Lencioni described as the 5 Dysfunctions of Teams:
It is clear that each one of these deficits feeds the others and together they can lead to a toxic mixture of underperformance at a catastrophic level. The inability to surface these issues and deal with them effectively leaves everyone in a vulnerable situation. Teams who are experiencing challenges in these areas are not well placed on their own to resolve matter and move forward. Occupational Psychology provides skilled intervention to help tackle these ‘wicked issues’ productively in a way that can avoid damage and move organisations, teams and individuals to exceptional levels of performance.
What our clients say:
“Working with RDL is very liberating, they do not create a Dependency, quite the contrary – they are happy to support clients to achieve self-sufficiency”.
– Chief Executive, Tameside & Glossop Acute Services Foundation Trust
“I’ve worked with RDL in more than one client organisation and hold them in the highest regard; a real pleasure to deal with”
– Head of People Development and Engagement, AQA