team Exceptionalism

Team exceptionalism begins by building a constructive climate

By Steve Header

As an entrepreneur, a business owner, or manager of a team it is a great benefit to offer a constructive climate for your team members. When we speak of constructive climates, we envision a working environment where there is trust, openness, supportiveness and while not necessarily free of conflict, an environment free of conflicts that are centered on individuals or personal issues.

A constructive climate helps foster an employee’s sense of inclusion, respect, and enjoyment. It just happens to boost a company’s productivity; hence, profitability as well. It creates team exceptionalism and is in concert with what I like to call “the golden rule of management.” Which is creating conditions where your employees want to work for you and not have to work for you.

This pseudo-nirvana state of team perfection is closer than you may think and manifested by considering four readily achievable climate-in-practice factors:

1. Provide structure
Asking a home builder to build a house for you most likely will not work out exactly like you had expected or wanted. However, by providing the builder with a set of blueprints, he or she now has the required information needed to give you exactly what you wanted.

Similar to the blueprints for your home, structure allows employees to understand where they fit in and what is expected of them. It instills a sense of security, direction, and stability. It gives meaning to the purpose of their tasks.

2. Clarify norms
Every group has a set of rules that more or less dictate the group’s behavior. These are considered the group’s norms. Once established these norms are continuously communicated and shared. Not unlike the world’s many different societies, religions and practices, different groups will have different and varying rules for acceptable behavior.

There are societies where dining on insects, for example, is perfectly normal and accepted behavior. Then there are other areas on the globe where this behavior would be frowned upon. Illustrating that without direction certain norms may become counterproductive to the team’s goals, or at the very least unwanted. When building a constructive climate, leaders need to clarify what behavior will be acceptable.

3. Build cohesiveness
Group cohesiveness is essential, yet an elusive component of highly functioning groups. Commonly referred to as a sense of “we-ness,” cohesiveness is the cement that holds a group together. It is that feeling of pride, trust and loyalty each and every member feels toward the team. The esprit-de-corps that exists within a group.

Warriors Rockets Basketball

In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport – LeBron James. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers lost the 2018 championship to the Golden State Warriors, who have many very good players, and great cohesiveness.

4. Promote Standards of Excellence
Expressed or implied expectations for performance within a group are that group’s standards of excellence. Standards of excellence are different for every group and do not necessarily mean the group must be the best at everything it does, or that the products or services must have the highest quality or lowest cost. It simply means the performance expectations for that particular group, and as such need to be promoted to the team members.

Standards of excellence are to include the following six essential components to be effective for its members:
1. Information necessary to do the job and what skills are needed to be acquired
2. Initiative and effort that will need to be demonstrated
3. Treatment and behavior toward others within the group
4. Significance of deadlines
5. Goals that need to be achieved
6. Consequences if goals are achieved, or failed to be achieved

Team exceptionalism
A productive smooth functioning team is every manager’s aspiration and can be extremely difficult if not almost impossible to achieve. By following these four factors, you will have the guided steps necessary to build a constructive climate where your team will want to work for you and can flourish, accomplishing goals beyond both their and your wildest expectations.

23 June 2018

Steve Apr 2018Steve Header is Owner/Consultant of Lucidity Small Business Management – a management consulting firm catering to small business, and professor of Management courses at the local college level