In the movie, Oblivion, Tom Cruise plays an engineer manning a remote outpost on Earth. He goes out every day to maintain the drones in his zone. Watching over him is his partner, Vika, played by Andrea Riseborough. Every day, their mission commander asks Vika this question, “Are you an effective team?” Similarly, ask yourself, do you have an effective team? Who are your team members? What does each of them bring to your table?
I remember a popular folktale called “Journey to the West.” It is an inspiring tale of how a ragtag team of misfits headed by a renowned Zen Master from the Tang Dynasty in China went to the Western Heaven (India) to ask Buddha for a set of scriptures to save mankind. The team consisted of the eldest disciple, “Monkey King,” who is highly adaptable and skillful.
Next is “Piggy” the creative disciple, full of ideas and schemes. Then, there is “Monk,” who is fiercely loyal, diligent, and resilient. Lastly, is the “Horse” who is always dependable and reliable. The story is about how these disciples escort and accompany the Zen Master to fulfil his mission. Each on his own would never be able to accomplish the task but together they persevered and enriched the world with the delightful tales from their Journey to the West. Every team is somewhat similar to the team in the Journey from the West.
Everyone in the team has different levels of skills and willingness.
Reaching a state of high performance or high-performing team is a process. It is a process of engaging the motivation of people and developing their skills.
A Skill-Will matrix illustrates this concept.
1. People with low skill and will are likely not to last long in their jobs.
2. Those with low skill but high will, may become frustrated if they are not developed.
3. Those with low will but high skill may become cynical if they are not engaged or given opportunities to use their skills in a meaningful manner.
4. People with both high skill and will are able to achieve high performance, however, they may find it difficult to fit into team or unaware of their career derailers or blind spots.
Supervisors need to have regular performance conversations with their team by clarifying expectations and understanding their wants and needs.
Discuss their doubts about the work and what’s holding them back. Avoid surprises by giving just-in-time feedback to help people improve their performance. Providing coaching to develop people. Individualise the approach to engage and motivate people in each of the performance quadrants.
So, are you doing these practices? Are you an effective team?