There’s No “I” in Team

Teams. You have been in many teams in your life. From elementary to university you were constantly asked to work with other people towards a common goal. The group work experience can vary from a nightmare to a dream and land anywhere in between. The end result of team work was that the team accomplished the goal and you moved on to other projects. 

“People use the word team so lightly. It could just mean anything. What is cool about that, is that everybody has some experience with a team experience — but a group of people does not a team make,” says Janet Rock, Director of Knowledge Creation at Propellus.

Think of the best team experience you have ever had. What made it special? Did it feel like it went really smoothly? It probably felt easy and you weren’t worried about the job getting done. Now, imagine you could translate that great team feeling into the workplace, and amplify it; that is the beginning of a High Performance Team.

“We tend not to spend a lot of time thinking about how to translate that good team experience into our workplaces. We’ve all had those experiences because we grew up in team experiences, we forget that we can learn from a team experience elsewhere and bring it into our workplace,” Rock remarks.

In general, a high performance team is a group of people who are working together in the long term and their work overlaps with each other’s.

“When team becomes important is when your individual work begins to overlap and my work is dependent on yours. In that case, then we want to ask ourselves. Can we accomplish our goal by just doing the work and passing it back and forth to eachother,” says Doug Watson, Director of Member Services at Propellus.

Well over a year ago, Propellus recognized that our leadership team had the interconnected work, the desire and the will to work towards becoming a high performance team – something that the leadership team continually works on.

“My experience with high performance teams lies on our leadership team here at Propellus,” says Rock.  “In my experience building this kind of team is really important when you are working towards big ongoing challenges, and making difficult decisions. The support that we receive from one-another on that team is incredibly valuable.”

“In a high functioning team there is an understanding that my success is tied to your success and as we begin to understand that then we are able to interconnect our work more and more and start to see results from that,” added Watson.

Creating a high performance team is not an easy road. It requires time and energy to build the trust needed.

“There is a shared accountability and responsibility there that makes you feel a lot more capable because you can lean on other people, it makes you feel support and trust,” Rock revealed. “Instead of people who are just committed to the job, we are people who are committed to the mission but we are also committed to each other.”

“In a high functioning team no one person feels stressed on an ongoing basis about their job. Everybody does at moments in time in their job, but on a HPT the team carries the stress of meeting targets and achieving what it is the organization requires of them,” explains Watson.

If you are looking for outcomes, or to be able to better serve your members or clients, Watson truly believes that building a high performance team is the way to best achieve your goals.

“Research suggests that if you were able to support 5 clients before, you would be able to support nine clients with the same resources, with the same people working as a high performance team. I think given the scarcity of resources in the non profit sector, working as a HPT is probably a necessity,” says Watson.

“In the nonprofit sector, I think it is our preference to work together in an interconnected way,” he suggests. “This is difficult work because we deal with some real difficult social issues and in a high performance team we can really support one another in those challenges, and help one another achieve our organizations mission. Whatever that may be.”

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