The Rebirth of the Team Concept
The quest for creative solutions and innovative results often drifts into dangerous territory. For every clever breakthrough or improved system, there are countless missteps, backfires, and flat-out disasters.
Recently, the leaders of an international accounting firm came up with what they believed to be the perfect way to bring new employees up to speed, provoke original thinking, and develop a company-wide sense of teamwork. There was only one small problem: Their program was a mess.
There were high levels of competition, lots of stress, and real anxiety about coming up with the best, most creative ideas. Also, management was unhappy with the quality of the program’s solutions.
The organization had set up the program to be an eight-month training ground for new accountants. Employees were placed on development teams with the task of designing innovative solutions for clients. The company-wide program even ran in foreign offices. Despite the considerable energy invested in the program, however, the firm’s leaders saw only lackluster results.
The training needed to be geared towards helping improve the teams’ performance. It was soon discovered that most of the teams suffered form interpersonal tensions and low morale.
The team members would have initial excitement but morale decreased over time, and people would just withdraw.
In addition, most of the teams fell into one of two categories. There were those teams that would take the first solution presented and run with it, regardless of quality or feasibility. These team members often didn’t want to rock the boat by rejecting anyone’s ideas. It was apparent that they obviously didn’t feel comfortable presenting or debating concepts, so their solutions were bland in a painful effort to avoid conflict.
The other type of team would constantly brainstorm and critique ideas without getting anywhere. These team members would waste time by generating and refining solutions, always moving in a circle rather than toward completion.
It was believed that there were several reasons for the teams’ difficulties. Foremost was the team members’ lack of knowledge of proper roles. They had no idea of their individual strengths or weaknesses, and they were unaware that their teams were imbalanced. Furthermore, some members were intolerant of colleagues who made unique contributions to the team.
Two or three members would usually dominate the group. In one case, team members didn’t understand a colleague’s strong Refiner drive. They didn’t like her punching holes in ideas. It caused a lot of stress.
The teams were in chaos, lost without a model for how group work should progress. Often, they simply had no knowledge of what should happen next. To clarify matters and get employees on the right track, the Team Dimensions Profile was introduced to the groups.
The goal was to improve the teams’ solutions. The Team Dimensions Profile is important to that process because it helps people develop awareness of their roles and be comfortable with them. The Team Dimensions Profile also helps teach the value of the roles of others.
The firm’s management had to be convinced the right tool was chosen. So the organization’s leaders took the Online Team Dimensions Profile, which personalized the instrument for them. The management team quickly saw the profile’s application, and they appreciated the Team Dimension Profile’s cultural neutrality.
The company needed a single product that would be accepted in 18 different countries and the Team Dimensions fit that.
Another selling point was the ease of delivery offered by the online EPIC version of the Team Dimensions Profile. This was crucial because the logistics of international training had to be as efficient and reliable as possible. Massive amounts of paper would not do.
If they needed 200 profiles in Greece the next day, the online access codes could be email immediately to them. That was a big plus.
Convinced of the Team Dimensions assessment’s potential, the management team integrated this solution into the next round of the company’s training program. A group of internal trainers at the various offices administered the profile to the new employees.
Expectations were high for the latest incarnation of the firm’s training program. Fortunately, the influence of the Team Dimensions Profile was soon apparent.
The Team Dimensions Profile gave the team members a way to talk about problems before they came out as attacks. The employees finally had a common language to describe issues.
Team members reported a sense of relief at knowing their roles. Their increased confidence and lower stress levels helped the team work together more effectively. The knowledge that other roles existed on their teams led participants to establish a community of acceptance. They became more tolerant of those with different preferences or skills.
The previous group had believed that diversity equals adversity. The new group understands that everyone approaches work differently, and that’s fine.
The insights that the Team Dimensions Profile provided were valuable for participants, who increased their morale and their commitment to the training program’s goals. In addition, the Z-Process model helped team members become more focused. They avoided going in circles or getting lost on unnecessary digressions, as the previous program’s trainees had. The participants understood what each group needed before moving on to the next step.
Team members had asked, Are we advancing now or are we refining? They shared their results, laughed with one another, and recognized the strengths of the different roles.
Obviously much happier in their work, the participants had less tension and fewer conflicts within their teams. In turn, this allowed creativity to prosper, and the participants felt that they had more freedom to innovate. As a result, the quality of the team’s solutions increased dramatically.
However, the real proof of the program’s revitalization was the reaction of the management team. The firm’s leaders were thrilled with the new teams’ results, which they hailed as a vast improvement over the previous groups’ efforts. The Team Dimensions Profile is a big reason for the turnaround.
The Team Dimensions Profile helps people learn to work from their strengths. People say, “This is my role, and it’s ok.”
Inscape Publishing Case Study