Six tips for cultivating high performing teams, by Polycom
Written by John Paul Williams (pictured, right), Enterprise Solutions & Market Development, Polycom
Those of us who have been a part of high performing teams know the exhilaration of reducing time-to-market, cutting out unnecessary processes and costs and simply producing better products for customers through improved collaboration. So how can supply chain teams replicate this not only vastly improve business, but also energize workers?
With teams prepped and armed to collaborate in real time, manufacturers can diminish production wait time by connecting suppliers to the production team, save money through enhanced communication and quicken processes with improved collaborative decision making.
Teams that can accomplish the above don’t happen by chance. Building and fostering innovation in a work environment is a challenge, as well as a learning process. Like all learning processes, it is subject to all of the elements that may “make or break” success.
Here are six best practices for building an environment conducive to creating high performing teams.
1. Innovation: Set your strategy
Are you focused on developing a new product? A new process? A new business model? Discover your core competence. By doing so you will know where you compete today and can better determine where to invest in innovation for tomorrow. Understanding discontinuity in the marketplace can help your teams focus on process, product or business model design that can take fast advantage of the discontinuity. Support your teams by helping identify where the organizational strengths exist that will accelerate innovation.
2. Environment: Support teams with the right culture and management methodology
No innovation comes without missteps. Otherwise, WD40 would be called WD1! High performance teams are more likely to innovate when there is tolerance for mistakes. Teams must be pushed to learn from their mistakes, adjust quickly, and try again. A culture of tolerance and learning is essential when combined with a deep-seated sense of urgency to bring ideas to market.
3. Organisation: Seek out and connect your innovators
What are the attributes of an innovator? It’s not as obvious as you think. Business leaders must be able to determine who in the organization is most likely to be an asset to a high performance team. However, there are known factors to uncover those creative enough to “think outside the box.” As you build your team, look for individuals who embody at least a few of the following traits:
· Critical thinking—Creative questioning of accepted knowledge
· Perspective—Interest in learning and examining problems from multiple perspectives
· Risk mitigation—Interest in iteration, constantly trying and testing improvements
· Access to domain expertise—Participation in richly connected social networks
· Patience—Tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity
4. Resources: Take advantage of enabling technology
High performers work best when surrounded by those who complement their innovative thinking. Unfortunately, innovators often are hardest to bring together due to busy schedules and other demands. Video communication is an enabling technology that makes it exponentially easier for teams to collaborate with each other and access knowledge no matter where they are. Nearly as effective as “being there,” video communication offers the benefits that come from experiencing body language, facial expressions and even environmental contexts. Armed with video, teams can have access to production floors or laboratories without the logistical challenges that come from in-person meetings.
5. Process: Enable easy knowledge management
To improve performance, we must collect and access knowledge in ways that help us learn and improve. There is no right way to manage this knowledge—it is more important to focus on a method that works for your group. Armed with video collaboration teams can access knowledge when and where it’s needed which is paramount in fostering innovation. These teams will be generating new Intellectual Property (IP) by learning from mistakes, making new discoveries, and recombining existing solutions in new ways. Technology can make the recording of these discoveries for future use as easy as the single push of a button.
6. Integrate: Leverage the value from intellectual assets
A particular innovation may make sense for today, or it may work better in the future. The ability to capture, manage, share and apply this knowledge promises significant value, helping teams to perform better because they are not starting from “square one.” Video collaboration, especially when recorded, is an extremely effective way to gather knowledge, capturing interaction and discussions, as well as the context and experience behind each innovative idea.
It is easy to justify investing time and resources into building high performance teams. From top line revenue to bottom line savings and reducing time spent on almost any business process, the numbers speak for themselves. As you work to set your teams up for success, consider these six steps.
About the author
John Paul Williams is the director of Enterprise Solutions & Market Development at Polycom. His background in leading global innovations in manufacturing, quality, and engineering spans the fields of telecommunications, process controls, military avionics, consumer goods, and more. Prior to joining Polycom, John Paul served as General Manager of a process controls firm, designing and manufacturing control systems for the Energy industry. John Paul has managed plants in Europe, Asia, and the United States, providing local support to customers and markets while taking advantage of regional cost advantages. He has also been a successful senior quality officer, implementing Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma methods that increased competitive advantage.