Everywhere you look companies and teams are looking for speed: foot speed, communication speed, and speed of delivery of goods and services. We started to notice a correlation between teamwork challenges and the duration of the team itself. In youth sports the average season is 16 weeks long, an eternity for the player, but a blip on the screen for an adult. In work environments temporary workers are the standard for most Global 1000 companies and they even have different color badges for all to see. The need for speed has created an environment where leaders can fill the room with people, but one layer down all parties are looking around the room to gauge the commitment to the group, and the duration and type of contract.
Regardless of your position on one of these new “iTeams”, factoring in the length of the time the team is to be together should help you work well with all parties. If you are the leader, missing this key dynamic can be costly to your performance especially with the lowest power participants. Often times the lower power groups will never communicate their frustration, rather they will find a way to hit a personal “release” valve that subtly kills the team culture. It can show up in their engagement level. They are present, but not clicked into the team's goal. Often times they vote with their feet, by not showing up at all. Dr. Suess’s “Yertle the Turtle" comes to mind here.
As you build your teams, keep a special eye out for your different groups. Don’t overlook the short duration participants. They often have long duration commitments elsewhere (spouses and children), that if tended to correctly can make a big impact on how they perform on your team. If you don’t, one named “Mack" may burp and like Yertle your team may end up flat on its back.
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Drew Sanders Blog
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