TEAM FORMATION STARTS WITH TRUST
I worked on a project for a global company with
12 leaders on the team, including nine from different
countries. When taking on a project like this, it’s vital
to address communication among team members right
up front because it can often be a disruptor. Removing barriers to communication is imperative and is best
accomplished with face-to-face meetings that help solidify a foundation on which the team can build.
At times, people assume that geographic obstacles
will prevent these team meetings. I’ve had teams try
optimization without face time, thinking they could
do it with technology alone, and it wasn’t effective.
To build a solid foundation and operate at a high
level, the most effective teams commit to meeting
in-person at least four to six times each year. Inevitably, the takeaway from these in-person meetings is
positive. Coming together provides the opportunity
to build on the foundational pieces that we know
make a team successful.
First and most critical to the foundation is trust,
no matter what model a consultant uses. Trust can
come only from being together, getting to know one
another, and doing that in a way that demonstrates
vulnerability. The words that are used, the body language, the eye contact, the tone of voice—these all
come into play during team formation. That’s where
a team begins to build its trust foundation.
When team members understand each other’s
greatest strengths and vulnerabilities, they can communicate and contribute better to the group’s effectiveness. This results in a truly global team that is capable of operating at a high-performing level, despite
disruptors. Once that trust is established, the team
can move on to more technology-focused collaboration solutions, such as video conferencing.
THE TEAM OPTIMIZATION JOURNEY
A combination of face-to-face team-building and
technology is optimal, but many companies mistakenly believe that team optimization work is a one-time session rather than a journey. The evolution of a
team comes from its experiences along the way.
If a team faces a disruption in the market, it
changes how they might operate from an organiza-
tional design perspective, or team members might
leave as a result of the shift. The point of team op-
timization is that the group can manage through
changes as they occur because the groundwork for
success is already in place.
Team optimization is an ever-evolving process that
requires continuous attention. Leaders of global organizations must invest their time and effort to ensure that
they are in sync, working together to create a culture
that is in line with business objectives, as well as the
company’s mission, vision and values.
It is important to remember that no one ever has it
all figured out. Every team is at a different place in
its trajectory of success and optimization. Most great
leaders will say that you’re never done working on becoming your best, as an individual or as a team.
THE CONSULTANT’S ROLE
Successful global team optimization centers
around the wisdom and experiences each team leader
brings to the process. As consultants, it might benefit
our clients if we put on more of a coach’s hat during
these projects. Our clients must come to their own
conclusions about how they will respond to change
and produce business results. A coaching approach
allows the team to create the answers they need.
In this line of work, I like to refer to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert’s quote: “Impact is rewarding. Mattering makes us happy.” Everyone wants to
matter. I’ve seen examples of this at the C-suite level
on global leadership teams.
This is where cultural awareness becomes so important in our work as global consultants. We must
be mindful of where we are and with whom we’re
working. Approaches to this work might differ
based on culture, language, or geography, while the
methodology for achieving overarching goals can be
Mary Herrmann is Managing Director, Executive Coaching, at
BPI group. As a global practice leader, she leads a team of professional coaches in the United States and abroad. Mary and
her team are focused on helping organizations drive change
and deliver results through proven best practices in leadership
and executive team development. Mary can be reached at 312-
334-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.