Building a High Performing Team
Short of us having a true panel discussion where all of the presenters are sitting around a table, last month’s meeting was the first time that I attended one of our CSI meetings where the presenter purposefully sat in a chair for the entire presentation. And I have attended our CSI meetings faithfully since September 1974. That’s 43 continuous years of CSI Meetings. It reminded me of participating in a “fire-side chat.” The only thing missing was a “fireplace,” which probably could have been furnished by one of those Virtual Reality headsets from our CSI meeting a few months ago. Our presenter was Rob Elliott of Pondera, a small “think tank” group located on Cascade Rd. near Spaulding Avenue in Ada or Cascade Township. I’m not sure which township it is because the physical boundary line probably runs through their front door.
As long as I mentioned virtual reality, I might as well describe to you what the meeting was about by reviewing my crib notes and putting on my virtual reality helmet cam and recalling my mental recollection of the slide presentation that Rob intended to show us. This will be like a “virtual re-hash” of the virtual reality slide show that we never saw. First of all, let me ponder the question of why Rob’s company name, Pondera, was selected by him in the first place (an excellent question from one of our meeting attendees). I referred to his company as a “think tank” with good reason. The name Pondera is actually taken from the Latin word “ponderare” which means to think deeply or weigh one’s thoughts deeply or thoughtfully. And that is exactly what his company does whenever they take on a new client. Rob or one of his associates sit down face to face with clients and questions them in order to get into the inner depths of the employees’ minds. The question and answer session is like a self-assessing questionnaire that each employee goes through in order to separate their “intellectual” intelligence from their “emotional” intelligence. “Intellectual” intelligence is having the ability to perform a job well while “emotional” intelligence gets down to the roots of one’s feelings, to be able to determine the flexibility for why certain actions might differ depending on a person’s emotion at the time. It is like forming small support groups within an organization in order to evaluate and criticize each other’s actions in order to attain “high performance” levels throughout the entire organization. The evaluations are then based upon an alpha-numeric weighted system similar to the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (another excellent question from one of our attendees). This Myers-Briggs Scale was initially developed by the late Carl Jung (1875 – 1961), a Swiss-German psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who had speculated that there are four principal psychological functions by which we humans experience the world. The four functions are sensation, intuition, feeling, and thinking and his theory was that one of these functions is dominant for a person most of the time. This Myer-Briggs Scale assumes that one of these functions is present in us at all times and that these principals can often change or alter themselves depending on surrounding circumstances.
In today’s business world, “building a high performing team” means putting your company’s whole brain to work and innovate or fall behind. Innovation takes place when different ideas, perceptions, and ways of processing and judging information collide. Innovation often requires collaboration among the various players who see the world in inherently different ways. This leads to engaging in essential healthy conflict. This conflict can lead to several critical questions: 1) …do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions; 2) …are team meetings compelling and productive; 3) …does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus; 4) …do team members confront one another about their shortcomings; and lastly 5) …do team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team. Oftentimes, this healthy conflict ends up taking place unproductively among team members who do not thoroughly understand one another. The conflict becomes personal and the creative process breaks down causing five dysfunctions within the group: 1) …absence of trust (hiding weaknesses or mistakes, hesitating to ask for help or input, reluctance to say “I don’t know”); 2) …fear of conflict (veiled discussions or guarded comments); 3) …lack of commitment (decisions are revisited again and again, much second guessing, lack of direction, window of opportunity closes due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delays); 4) …avoidance of accountability (talking about one another behind their backs, resentment among team members who have different standards of performance, or missing deadlines and key deliverables); 5) …inattention to results (certain team members highlighting their own achievements, finger pointing or blaming one another, if a project is behind schedule, certain individuals point to everything they did right, or just not checking things off the list).
High performing teams are noted for getting to the source of any problems by knowing what lies beneath the surface. These teams a) …concentrate and focus on team results; b) …they practice peer to peer accountability; c) …they work to achieve commitment; d) …they engage in healthy conflict; and e) …they embrace vulnerability-based trust in one another. Trust is the foundation of teamwork as well as being about vulnerability. Building trust takes time but the process is capable of being accelerated. Like any good relationship, trust must be maintained over time. Team members must be comfortable about being vulnerable with each other and have to be willing to admit weaknesses if they exist. Everybody on the team must be ready to acknowledge fears and must be regularly asking for help whenever it is necessary. Team leaders must 1) …have the courage to accept challenges; 2) …have self-awareness to recognize their shortcomings and 3) … have the purpose to address all issues; 4) …have more courage to maintain acceptance by all team members; 5) …have the character to remain level headed when faced with issues; 6) … have more trust in all team members ability to pull together; and 7) …have the proper vision and action to address each issue or challenge in a timely manner. “Remember that the longest journey begins with a single step.” As for the virtual reality slide presentation, the preceding last quotation was the only slide that was shown throughout the entire presentation. Our presenter, Rob Elliott was kind enough to send me his entire presentation to review and make comments. I must remember to thank Rob and to ask him if he is a shirt-tail relative of my wife, whose great-grandmother, Mollie Elliott was born and came to the USA from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
The bar was sponsored by CSI Chapter 098. The higher than usual absenteeism at this meeting was because of the large volume of power outages due to the severe wind storm. Hank Hondorp has a major conflict because the Great Lakes Region Board Meetings are always held at the same time as our Chapter meeting and he is the Region President. The following CSI members and guests made reservations to attend the presentation:
Charlie Appleby MWA Firestone
Ed Avink Progressive AE
Gary Beimers GB Consultants
Adam Boswell Ludowici Roof Tile
Brent Brisbok (absent) Tremco Roofing
Kevin Clausen (absent) Great Lakes Systems Roofing
Jim Collins (absent) C2AE
Pat Corderman (via phone) Rockford Constr. (Board Meeting only)
Peter DeJong Monsma Marketing
Justin DeMarco BASF Insulation (New Member)
Ron Duimsra FTCH
Stan Elenbaas Erhardt Construction (Board Meeting only)
Rob Elliott (presenter) Pondera
Neil Esdaille (excused) Progressive AE
Brad Hayden Tremco Roofing
Jim Hojnacki (Emeritus) Mich. Adjunct – A. E. I. C.
Hank Hondorp (excused) Progressive AE
Gary Johnson Tower Pinkster
Gregg Jones C2AE
Jennifer McCormick Daltile (Board Meeting only)
Jeff Murphy Progressive AE
Dewain Peterson (guest) ASSA Abloy (Northern Illinois CSI)
David Roodvoets DLR Consulting
David Trudell TAC Consulting
Brian Welsh Progressive AE