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High-performing teams - links to Team GB success in the Rio Olympics

Bob’s guide to successful Change Management: Creating & maintaining a high-performing Change team

Before I get into this, I should let you know that I was thinking about high-performing teams and came up with the idea of linking to the highly topical Team GB success in the Rio Olympics. So that’s how we get to the starting point for this blog.

So, every 4 years there’s a global change event called the Olympics. What an impact this makes on the host country, the global athlete community and associated commercial impact. But is it really every four years or is it always with us but surfaces to global consciousness in the fourth year?

Maybe this is the first similarity with organizational change i.e. it’s really always with us but surfaces in some highly visible programmes depending on the mood of the C-Suite or specific Senior Executive strategy or evolving market economics.

Back to Team GB and high-performance, delivered under the most intense scrutiny. This high-performance does not arrive by magic! You only have to listen to the cyclists, rowers, athletes, swimmers, gymnasts, all our Olympians including their support teams and sponsors and you hear of tremendous effort sustained over many years with almost no ‘down time’, difficulties overcome, success & failure converted to effective lessons learned and forward momentum. All of this sustained over many, many years with the culmination of years of effort delivered, depending on the sport, in a matter of seconds.

Reflect on all that effort and then coming 4th! Now, that means the individual or team is the 4th best in the world, but it seems like relative failure. What happens next? For most of the Olympians some down time, reflection before starting again!

Something else to think about: how to create Team GB from, in the most part, highly competitive individuals. Could it be something to do with having an individual sense of purpose aligned and engaged with the collective purpose of Team GB?

An observation on high-performing organizational change teams – how many change teams are created as an answer to the question: why should you work together as a team? The answer is frighteningly simple: because of the work we need to accomplish. (Casey: Ashridge Management College, 1993).

As a bit of a high-performing Change Management Team Stress Test:

  •  For the change teams that you are working with how many teams are really clear on why they are working together?
  •  Are they really working together or are there hidden agendas?
  •   Is there alignment and engagement with getting the agreed work done?
  • What’s the criteria for selecting and appointing members of the CM Team? (you can be very sure the selection criteria for Team GB is very clear)
  •  What are the standards, both technical and behavioural, expected from a high-performing CM Team?
  •  Do all members of the CM Team understand and accept these standards?
  • What are the consequences of not delivering to these standards?

Regarding organizational change, lessons could be taken from Team GB:

  • Criteria for being on the team are clear,
  • Performance standards are understood and accepted,
  • Commitment and understanding that there will be ‘ups & downs’ over time in the direction of travel,
  • Alignment & Engagement with the task in hand are implicit.

A key point here is alignment and engagement are related but different. It’s worth remembering and planning how to manage if alignment and engagement start to diverge. There’s even a case saying this should be in a front-end loaded Change Plan.

What I mean here is people can be engaged but their engagement is passive/aggressive or just plain aggressive. Alignment is where what is said and what is done, are positively linked. What is said & what is done are achieved with the desired Mindset & Behaviour.

And finally – it will take time so build a robust, reality-based plan: successful “Change Management Olympians” require to constantly adjust on their way to achieving ‘Gold!’

Learn more about the crucial elements that constitute a successful Change programme with one of our accredited Change Management training providers.   

Written by: Bob Black, Learning Tree International


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