With the Houston Astros one game away from possibly winning the MLB World Series (#TakeItBack) we wanted to highlight the importance of teamwork. The same teamwork principles that apply to the Astros, also apply to work teams. Whether your team is on the baseball field or in the office, there are four attributes that every team must have to achieve operational excellence.
All team members should be working towards the same common purpose and goal. For the Astros, the common goal is to win the World Series. However, for business organizations, it may not be as clear cut as winning a championship series. Each team member needs to understand how their role and function will translate into the common goal. Projects have many stages and milestones, so it is important to continue alignment discussions throughout the different phases of the project. A daily stand-up meeting is an agile way to get your team aligned and make sure the project plan is still on track.
Culture and Trust
In order to have high levels of collaboration and innovation, trust is of the utmost importance in a team. Kenny Pierce talks about trust as a necessary ingredient to build a strong culture. The Astros are known for their culture and comradery. Their trust and respect for one another translate into a fun and productive work environment.
In a business setting, team members should be able to communicate freely in an environment where differences in opinions are also welcomed. Employees need to feel respected and encouraged by their peers to be creative and take risks to achieve superior results. At Veritas, we developed a Veritas Culture Code to reinforce our values and culture.
Defined Roles and Responsibilities
It is important to clarify roles and responsibilities within a team. Roles will be assigned corresponding to people’s attributes and abilities. Expectations for each role need to be established, and team members should hold each other mutually accountable to get the desired results. Just like José Altuve is a second baseman (#MVP), he could not have won the MVP title if each team member did not perform their specific role or responsibilities.
There are many ways to assign roles and responsibilities to a team. One of them is the RACI chart. It is a simple matrix that assigns roles and responsibilities by task or milestone on a project. There are 4 key responsibilities: Responsible (team member who does the work to complete the task), Accountable (Delegates work and is last to review the task), Consulted (team member with necessary expertise who provides input), Informed (team member who needs to be kept in the loop).
Collaboration & Communication
As mentioned before, a successful team needs to be comprised of individuals with complementary skills. Through collaboration, team members can learn from each other and therefore enhance their unique abilities. It provides new perspectives that an individual would not have been able to derive on its own.
Every major team sport suffers when there is poor communication between team players. Think of the classic baseball error of two outfielders colliding because they didn’t properly communicate who was going after the ball. The same issues happen in business when there is no clear communication between team members. To ensure there is open and professional communication in a team, there should be an open-door policy as well as an open feedback culture. There are several communication tools that can be utilized to make communication seamless and fluent. The most commonly used one is the use of email, but a more agile way of communicating could be using a company chat. If the project requires tracking issues, there is specialized software like which helps facilitate project metrics.
Businesses should invest in people and processes to create high performing teams that work in an agile and effective way to remain competitive. Promoting a learning culture and recognizing individual strengths will empower employees to grow and adapt to the ever-changing business needs. The Houston Astros are a very strong team that possesses all the characteristics of a high performing team. Being a Houston-based firm, we hope this takes them all the way!
Veritas Total Solutions is a management consulting firm. We specialize in various strategy & transformation solutions that enable companies and professionals to transform their businesses. If you are interested in learning more about our specific capabilities, contact us or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.