Upping the Game - Sharing Accountability through Intentional Teaming

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success…

                                                               ~Henry Ford


For better or worse, most of us associate teaming with schoolyard sports. For some of us this conjures up fond memories rich with pride and success, and for others it’s more about meaningless and painful experiences best forgotten. Whichever is our reality, we carry these perceptions of teaming into the workplace. Little wonder that teamwork is a challenge, even before taking into account such things as personality differences, positional power differentials, socio-economic, cultural, and religious differences. The deck is solidly stacked against successful teaming, much to the chagrin of managers who are charged with cultivating motivated teams.


To overcome the hurdles, many managers resort to divide and conquer tactics, making themselves the pivot-point through which all work group activity flows. While this works, it misses the point and value of teaming – the incredible generative potential that lies hidden within the interaction of diverse ways of reasoning and relating.


Intentional teaming shifts accountability for effective interaction from managers to entire teams and challenges all members to increase situational awareness. Rather than coming to a meeting to advance positional or personal needs, work through an agenda, or receive instructions and disposition issues, members are asked to SOAR.


·         Stop – get settled, connect with self and others, and remember that the team’s combined behavioural preferences can elevate or derail performance

·         Orient – identify the types of functionalities the team will need to demonstrate to optimize the likelihood of success – and name them

·         Align – acknowledge personal strengths and blind spots in relation to the required functionalities

·         Respond – regulate personal behavior to minimize negative impacts on team performance


Let’s consider two very different functionalities a single team might need to demonstrate. In the first instance the team needs to recast its strategic plan. Success requires the team to demonstrate strategic, innovative, and conceptual thinking, clear and persuasive communications, and critical and financial reasoning to sequence and whittle down what is ultimately doable. Compare this to the team focusing on improving customer experience. In this case the team will need to establish friendly alliances, learn about the community’s needs and wants, build trust, bridge differences and resolve conflicts. To shift from one functionality to the other, the team’s members need to amplify some behavioural preferences while calming others. Shaping the social dynamic to suit the functionality requirements of a team at a given point in time is the ultimate team sport.

Willingness, a high quality predictive behavioural analytic to establish individual and collective strengths, and a robust team performance model that helps team members size up functionality requirements is all that is needed to hone this skill. Are you up for the challenge?