Maximising Teams

By Louise Broekman, HR Coach Network

This article appeared in Issue 3#5 (July/August 2009) of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand

Every one of us in our own unique way contributes to other people’s lives, the community and the economy.  At work, we all contribute to making the business successful, because a successful business creates jobs.  And jobs give us purpose and keep the economy going.

When each individual contributes at work, we are giving back for what we receive – our jobs.  We can help each other.  Employers can help employees and employees can help employers – in making a difference.

Most workplaces share a common goal - to create a stable, sustainable business where people are engaged in the work they do and are committed to the business and its goals.  How each workplace makes this happen may be different.  What may work in a manufacturing environment may not be appropriate for an accounting firm.  The more effective the team activities are linked to strategy, the greater the confidence of the business.

So how do we maximise the value of a team to build internal confidence?  

We all know that when a goal is shared and worked towards, the shift in business results can be significant.  I would like to share with an example of how teams can work together to create a dynamic and healthy work environment.  It is also an initiative that you can implement in your workplace – it is called Just 1 Job.

Internal Confidence – A New Perspective

The National STAR Report©, an initiative of the HR Coach Research Institute, identifies the pressures on productivity within business in terms of strategy and the activities of employees.  It identifies the issues impacting on internal confidence of the employer and employee.

The most common pressure points internally (or factors of least confidence) for employers and employees in businesses are in the table below.

Following the release of the January 2009 National STAR Report, the HR Coach Research Institute chaired a series of national focus groups which included business owners, employees, industry and academic representatives to review the findings.

The focus group discussions evaluated the key information and discussed the critical outcomes and improvements for the business sector.  

Businesses were looking for clear, tangible and meaningful activities to implement in their business with their team to not just survive but flourish.  The research and the focus group discussions have been the catalyst for the development of a positive framework for the future- The HR Coach Just 1 Job Initiative.

Just 1 JobStimulating our economy is a national issue.  But the issues we face today are so big that it often leaves individual business owners and employees feeling powerless to make a difference.  

The Just 1 Job initiative transcends state and industry boundaries to bring meaningful action to individual businesses, employers and employees working together as a team.  

Employers and employees can work together to create the solution on improved productivity and job creation.  Whilst government, industry bodies and the global economy look for macro solutions, businesses can implement local actions.  The answers for survival can come from within.  Maximising the team has never been as important.  In times of change the skills and adaptability of an organisation is tested.  The greater the problem solving capacity of the team, the better the survival rate.

For businesses to not only survive but to flourish- employers and employees should not just focus only the problem - but the goal.  So what should the goal be?

Just 1 Job will mean different things to different businesses and teams.  It is not a one size fits all solution.  The Just 1 Job initiative aids communication, goal setting, planning and productivity.  If employers and employees work together to make sure that every job counts, we can start solving the problem.  Just 1 Job focus points assist businesses in three key areas:

A Planned Approach to Team Work

The Just 1 Job Program is designed to develop a planned approach to team work.  Whether it is an initiative like Just 1 Job, or other projects within the workplace, a planned approach is critical to sustain successful outcomes long term.  Success is determined by the sustainability of the workplace and how employees feel successful within as a result.

Developing a planned approach for successful teams includes 4 key factors:

1. Strategy
Know your direction and strategy.  You can identify your strategic options and the step by step milestones in the short term.  This gives you flexibility in your strategic focus and agility to respond to changing market conditions and emerging opportunities.  

Focus then on the first milestone and the resources required.  This focus enables workplaces to focus on the job at hand with the long term goals of strategy in mind, but not fixed.

2. Team
Ensure you have the team you want on board.  Be clear in expectations and don’t ignore poor performance.  Remember, the standard of the workplace is measured by the standard of each employee.  

For teams to be effective, individual contribution, reliability and trust is important.  Research from the HR Coach Research Institute identified that developing trust in the workplace is a key satisfier for employees working in small and medium businesses.  This is a distinct competitive advantage for employees wanting to work in businesses in comparison to corporate environments.  This provides a solid platform for teamwork.

3. Actions
Creating projects and project teams provides variety for employees, points of interest and focus in the workplace.  Therefore, project planning and problem solving techniques are important when putting actions into place.  We know that 48% of Australian businesses operate in chaos mode everyday.  

Project management skills and following up on actions is an important management technique for effective team work.  When employees manage their own tasks and reporting back on results, this enables everyone to maximise their value in the business.  Think about this, if a manager is checking on an employee that a task has been completed, you have two people doing the one job!  This is not only inefficient; it is also expensive with a lot of eroded value within the team.  Identify within the team what each person can “own”.  Then have clear project plans in place.

4. Results
If you have milestones, then you have a measurement for results.  Following through or finishing what you started is traditionally a problem for most workplaces.  When everyone is busy and teams are hands on, it is easy to get distracted on the next thing.  If teams are working on projects, then it must be managed carefully.  

A technique used in the Just 1 Job program to address this is Ducks Day!  Not strategy day or a management meeting.  It is a day specifically designed as a buffer zone to finish everything that we started, reviewing the results and milestones that were planned the previous quarter. – before moving on to the next project.  It means that we have our “Ducks in a Row!”

Teams Checklist

So practically, how do you maximise teams in your workplace?

  • Do you have the right people in your team?
  • Are your employees doing the right things?
  • Are you clear on your expectations for their role?
  • Are your employees clear on your expectations?
  • Do you manage your employees in line with your expectations?
  • Are you clear about your employees’ expectations of you and your workplace?
  • Do you maximise the talents, skills, knowledge and creativity of your team?
  • Are your employees satisfied?
  • Do you measure their satisfaction?
  • What improvements could be made within your business?
  • Do you involve your employees to improve your workplace?
  • Do you communicate clearly and ask for their feedback?
  • Do you have projects that your employees could be involved in?
  • How well does your team work together?
  • Do you know the pressure points inside your business?
  • What missed opportunities do you have to improve team work within your business?
  • Do you have an annual HR Plan?

For more information about the Just 1 Job initiative or for a copy of the book, contact or 1300 550 674.