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Creating High Performance 21st Century Teams

By August 29, 2019November 23rd, 2020Blog
Creating 21st Century Teams

Creating High Performance 21st Century Teams

There has recently been a shift in the workforce with Millennials (born 1980-1994) being the largest demographic of the four generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z). The workforce is diverse and complex, with a focus on work-life blend rather than balance. To employees, a sense of purpose is paramount. They want to feel valued, and they want to learn. Due to this shift, it’s time to reinvent the workplace to create 21st Century teams.

According to Deloitte’s latest research (April 2019), over 72% of employees left an organisation due to the Leadership Team, the direct manager, or both. 85% are not engaged, or actively disengaged, and the top reason people quit is the inability to learn and grow. So how do we reinvent the workplace?

Deloitte’s research found that the most critical factors to re-invent the workplace are:

  • Utilising the Alternative Workforce (work by outsourced teams, freelancers, gig workers)
  • Leadership for the 21st century
  • Employee experience
  • Creating a workplace with a human focus
  • Accessing and unleashing talent
  • Life-long learning

What makes a high performing team?

High performing teams have emotional intelligence, integrated generations, are culturally diverse and harness the collective genius. They love responsibility (rather than accountability), are proactive and results focussed. They are creative problem solvers and develop a culture of trust and confidence within the team.

How can we create a high performing 21st century team?

To create a high performing team, you need three things: Emotional intelligence and collective genius within a culture of trust. Let’s break that down a little further.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a vital part of building high performing teams. Druskat and Wolff found that those team members should consistently demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Perspective-taking (how would others see this?)
  • Willingness to confront team members if they identify an issue
  • Have a caring orientation
  • Team self-evaluation (‘The story in my head is… What’s the story in your head?’)
  • Build external relationships
  • Interpersonal understanding
  • Solicit feedback on their work
  • Proactive problem-solving
  • Organisational awareness

Harnessing the Collective Genius

To harness the collective genius of your team, take the time to get to know each other better – which generations are represented, who has lived overseas, who can speak another language fluently, who grew up in a different country? All of these things represent diversity and the ability to bring a different perspective to the workplace and, once you are aware of the diversity that exists in your team, you can begin to harness the collective genius.

This can be as simple as recognising that each generation has different work characteristics due to the world and times that they grew up in:

Baby Boomers – Grew up post-WWII and as a result are optimistic, have a strong work ethic and enjoy mentoring.

Generation X – Were the latch-key kids as their Baby Boomer parents were working hard during their childhood. They are independent, innovative, and are strong communicators.

Millennials – Had doting parents who told them that they could achieve anything. They are tech-savvy, collaborative, focused on the greater good. These are the new leaders of the workforce.

Generation Z – are digitally fluent, practical and thrive in diverse workforces.

Creating a culture of trust

Rather than talking about KPIs and accountability, which can create anxiety and pressure, focus on unleashing the talents of the people in your team. Recognise what each team member is great at doing and give them the responsibility of a task. Responsibility conveys trust. Think about how the two following sentences would make you feel at work:

“John, you need to achieve these three KPIs, and I’m going to hold you accountable for them.”

“John, you’re really good at communications. Would you take responsibility for our social media marketing?”

Maxine Driscoll’s 7 Secrets to 21st Century Leadership

At a recent workshop during the Geelong Small Business Festival, Maxime Driscoll from Think Strategic shared her 7 secrets to 21st Century Leadership.

  1. Unite people around an exciting, aspirational vision.
  2. Build a strategy to achieve the vision.
  3. Create Collective Genius – recruit and grow talent to implement the strategy.
  4. Focus on results.
  5. Create ongoing innovation to reinvent the vision and strategy.
  6. Be the lead learner.
  7. Self-leadership is paramount.

The Six Conversations

  1. Invitation conversation. Transformation occurs through choice, not a mandate. The invitation is the call to create an alternative future. What is the invitation we can make to support people to participate and own the relationships, tasks, and process that lead to success?
  2. Possibility conversation. This focuses on what we want our future to be as opposed to problem-solving the past. This is based on an understanding that living systems are propelled to the force of the future. The possibility conversation frees people to innovate, challenge the status quo, and create new futures that make a difference.
  3. Ownership conversation. This conversation focuses on whose organisation or task is this? The conversation begins with the question, “how have I contributed to creating the current reality?” Confusion, blame and waiting for someone else to change are a defence against ownership and personal power.
  4. Dissent conversation. This gives people the space to say “no”. If we cannot say “no” then our “yes” has no meaning. Give people a chance to express their doubts and reservations as a way of clarifying their roles, needs, and yearnings within the vision and mission. Genuine commitment begins with doubt, and “no” is a symbolic expression of people finding their space and role in the strategy.
  5. Commitment conversation. This conversation is about individuals making promises to their peers about their contribution to success. It asks: What promise am I willing to make to this enterprise? Moreover, what is the price I am ready to pay for the success? It is a promise for the sake of a larger purpose, not for the sake of personal return.
  6. Gifts conversation. Rather than focus on our deficiencies and weaknesses, focus on the gifts we bring and capitalise on those to make the best and highest contribution. Confront people with their core gifts that can make a difference and change lives.

If you are looking for guidance to transform your team, why not get advice from one of our team! To book an obligation free HR Consultation, click here.

Helen Byrne

Author Helen Byrne

Helen is a Human Resources professional with a passion for supporting small business.

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