One of the key sessions in the foundation programme that Ngagementworks facilitates with teams is the exploration of what makes teams great. In the book ‘The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team’, written by Patrick Lencioni, he studied teams to find out what made some teams great and stand out above others and achieve success. In his book he identifies 5 key things great teams do to support their success. The foundation that needs to be in place over and above any other of the elements is trust.
A few years ago, I was working with a team who decided to hold their team development session at the Morgan car factory in Malvern. As part of the day, we had the opportunity to tour the factory and I witnessed the 5 key elements that Patrick Lencioni mentioned in his book, brought to life in front of my eyes. This article explores the 5 elements and what I saw happening at the Morgan car factory that supported this.
As background, The Morgan Company was established in 1906 by H.F.S. Morgan after leaving the locomotive industry and setting up a garage in Malvern, Worcestershire. Morgan is a niche market car manufacturer to the global market and is unique in a number of ways, one of which is that each car is hand built, each having a shell made from hand-crafted ash wood. In 2010, 1,000 cars rolled off the production line with each car taking a week to complete from start to finish. The company’s whole business model is based on longevity and brand reinforcement. This is not a get rich quick business but a business built on quality and customisation to meet the needs of the client. Morgan retains a highly skilled workforce of around 160 people, most of whom have learnt their trade at the factory. With the average length of service at the factory standing at 27 years!
The foundation and most important thing upon which he said great teams were built was trust. He said that without trust then a team wouldn’t function effectively. He summed up trust saying “Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level and are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviours.”
Colleagues that I observed on the production line demonstrated this in many ways, they each knew the part they played in the process and the skills and behaviours they needed to demonstrate. This was further reinforced in the camaraderie that I observed and the close bond that had developed. This was enhanced by the fact that both tea breaks and lunch breaks were all taken at the same time so that production down-time was minimised but also to increase the bonding time between individuals and teams.
Lencioni mentions that one of the best ways to build trust is by each member of a team having and sharing their own personal profile. There are many profiles that will enable teams to undertake this and at Ngagementworks, we use the highly-regarded Discovery Profiles developed by Insights.
Having a strong trusting relationship between individuals enables conflict to occur within teams. Whilst you may initially think conflict is a bad thing, it is actually very positive if done in an adult way as it enables individuals to share their thoughts and ideas with other team members and discussions to occur to better understand someone’s thoughts and ideas to ascertain whether the suggestion or idea will benefit the team or organisation.
Team members were actively encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas on how to enhance the effectiveness of processes and procedures with a lot of discussion on whether the suggestion would have a positive impact on either quality, reducing costs or time without compromising on the high standards of craftsmanship or impacting on another part in the production chain.
A common goal or vision is always required in a team or organisation. As individuals, we always want to know ‘what’s our purpose as this will enable us to understand how our role adds value to the team and organisation. Being able to discuss ideas and suggestions openly with colleagues to agree the best way forward assists in individuals being committed to the team and organisational goals as it creates clarity around direction and priorities.
At Morgan there was a culture had been developed where individuals were encouraged to put their suggestions and ideas forward to enhance the effectiveness and performance of the organisation and each team member had clarity around what their role was and also the vision of the organisation overall.
Patrick Lencioni suggests that accountability in the context of teamwork refers specifically to the willingness of team members to challenge their colleagues on behaviour or performance that may harm the team or organisation.
At Morgan, team members said they were happy to have those sometimes difficult adult conversations with their colleagues where they perceived their colleague was behaving or performing in a way which would cause damage. A difficult thing to do, as often, especially where there are long-standing personal relationships, we will tend to shy away from these conversations as it may harm a personal relationship. The key is to focus on the behaviour or performance as opposed to being critical of the person themselves. It is always important to have evidence to support what you say.
Finally, Lencioni mentions that if all the 4 areas mentioned before are in place, results can be achieved at team and organisational level with team members being committed to the common goal over and above their own personal results.
As can be seen by the final product that Morgan produce, I think they have got it right on that score.
I hope that my observations are of value to you and have got you thinking about you and your team, what is working and what isn’t and needs addressing.
If you wish to know more on how Ngagementworks can work with you and your team to engage individuals, motivate your team and help them transform to achieve even greater success, please do contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours behaviourally, Nick Fewings