10 C's Checklist to Decide if You Have an Effective Team (Part 2)

Last week, I opened the conversation about Effective Teams and challenged you to think critically about your own team. If you missed the first 5 C’s Checklist, click here to get caught up.

As promised, here are the remaining 5 C’s:
...And don’t forget to click the free download at the end!

6. Competent members.  Every team has to have people with enough skill and intellect to get the job done. Notice this does not say you need Perfect People, or The Smartest People, or The Best Looking People. You need people who can get the job done that align with the vision. This competence extends to a lesson I learned when I was about 4 years old. Everybody wants to play with the nice kid in the sandbox. Nobody wants to play with the arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic bully in the sandbox. All our adult lives we have been told this lie; that our organization is a zero-sum game. Which comes from an attitude of scarcity. The reason we organize as humans is that we can do more if we have each other. Stop threatening to take your sand bucket and go home if you don’t get your way. Start being nice to people, relax…go have lunch. Start behaving like you are part of an abundant world and that there is enough around for us all to eat like kings.


7. Coaching for results with a high standard of excellence. Coaching is a word that is getting a lot of play these days. It can mean anything from being directive and telling a person exactly what you want them to do (think football coach), to very supportive and delegating tasks without fear of being let down, and everything in between. In this idea of coaching, the coach bases their direction style on the needs of the person being coached. Yet keeping a high standard of excellence is key, not a matter of style. For me, coaching is all about helping the person see around a corner they are getting ready to turn and they have no idea what awaits them. There are times when the coach knows exactly what is going to happen to the individual and can help them prepare for what is coming next. There are other times when neither the coach nor the teammate knows what is around the bend. This is where the coach can get curious and at least brainstorm with the person what to expect and how to best handle whatever comes at them. The reason I like coaching so much is that it really helps to get rid of blame in organizations and focus more on opportunities that exist.

8. Confidence among members. Not one of us holds all the answers. In today’s complex organizations this is just not possible. We need to be able to ask each other questions and then listen to what the person has to say. This give and take, where one person is curious about something and then shows the ability to focus and pay attention and listen to the response, is a real key to team performance. If we are interacting like this, then I know that I can count on you to be there when it matters. Life is not perfect, things happen. If we run our teams knowing that someone has our backs when we fail, then others are more likely to reciprocate the deed when we might need it most. It is only on a team that is confident and comfortable that risks can be taken. As humans, we crave safety and security. Taking a risk isn’t safe, it is often scary and unpredictable. Knowing that you are there to support me if I fall helps me to be able to take my first step. High performing teams have confidence in each other.

9. Commitment to unity. I used to frame my thoughts around team strength using a skill model. My thinking went something like, “The team is only as strong as its weakest link.” I have to admit I was heavily influenced in my early management life by Jack Welch who had a model of ranking teammates from A (best) to (D) worst. Jack said to reward the A’s and get rid of the D’s. I have really changed my thinking on this over the last 20 years. Getting rid of people does not create unity. It only causes fear that “I might be next.” How I see team unity now is more around the philosophy of "a team is only as good as the least committed member.” I also believe it is up to the leader to create this level of commitment and to foster a spirit of “We are going to win or we are going to lose, that much I know. I also know whether we win or whether we lose we are going to do it together.”

10. Collaborative environment. No working environment is perfect. Everyone gets their feelings hurt from time to time. The worst thing that can happen on a team is that silos form and an “us versus them” mentality is created. Organizations are so complex that it is imperative that the culture remains collaborative even in the face of conflict. A spirit of collaboration says I care as much about your goals and the organization as you care about mine. I want you to win. I want you to succeed. I want you to be able to be the very best version of yourself that you can be. If I can help you with your goals and your goals are linked to the organization obtaining its vision and I truly believe in the vision, then why wouldn’t I help you? The enemy here is selfish ambition. We have to put away our own selfishness and arrogance and realize that these are going to leave us and everyone short of what they are trying to achieve. An effective team collaborates.

So, those are my top 10 C's to decide if you have an effective team.  Why not sit down and reflect on this list and really think through how your team is doing? Where are the places that you exceed expectations and are cause for celebration? Where are the gaps that need to be shored up?

If I came in and observed your team for a day, what would I find? If we used this checklist as a 1 (low) to 5 (high) scale how would your group fare? The other question that comes to mind is what if you rated your team and then I rated your team, would there be any differences? Sometimes leaders need outside perspective to see if what they are really seeing and experiencing is valid.

Care to take the challenge? If so, click HERE for a free printable download of this checklist. Use this with your team and let me know what you discover.