We're a Team Right?

by Janice Giannini

With a deep mastering at the intersection of IT and business strategy, consultant, board adviser and former C-suite executive, Janice has been harnessing the true power of IT for more than 30 years. An Executive and Board-level digital strategist at the intersection of risk and IT, she enhances competitive position through vision and equity with large-scale risk identification, quantification and mitigation in an ever-changing marketplace, generating long-term value for clients. She engages with senior executives and teams, particularly in complex businesses where misalignment is blocking their desired success, to develop and execute practical business strategies and plans. Clients have found her especially helpful when they recognize they must integrate an eagle's eye and worm's eye view in order to identify and remove obstacles. Janice has consistently taken on those challenges that others chose to run from. This typically involves those challenging times when failure is not an option and integrating business, technology and people changes must be accomplished simultaneously. As a result, many of her clients are complex organizations who won't settle for anything less than developing widespread professional competence.

In today's business world, it is a commonly accepted practice that we need a team to create and deliver the business' services to customers. When this topic first arises during cocktail hour conversations, many business leaders politely confirm their belief in the importance of teams and suggest their business behaves as a well-oiled team.

Many times the conversation takes the following turn. We believe in teams and we behave as a team except there is the constant tension between some of the functions or members or projects. That friction feels like it is getting in the way, and we are wasting a lot of our time to resolve issues.

The crux of this issue is what to do about it. Instinct might lead you to ask:

  • As an individual what else can I be doing to improve this situation?
  • Is it acceptable to acknowledge the tension?
  • What can others be doing to listen more effectively?
  • Is it simply the complexity or speed of the business that is creating issues?
  • What else is getting in the way?
  • Do people have reasonable expectations or not?
There is actually some truth to all of these feelings and thoughts.

Over the years, there is one distinguishing observation we have made. In organizations where there is excessive tension there is no "we".

That bears repeating: Where there is excessive tension among the team members or leaders, there is no WE!

To best position the business for sustainable growth and effective operations, getting to WE is required. This is far too important to ignore.

I am not here to give you a 10 step process or tell you if you follow the steps in 3 months it will all be perfect. That's unlikely to happen.

I am here to share with you that it can be different! You the reader may be the most effective catalyst to realize that difference.

Pose some of the following questions to engage the leadership team(s) across the company to get to WE:

  • What are the commonly held opinions for the sources of the tension?
  • Are there mismatched expectations?
  • How closely does the operational plan align with the business strategic plan? Where are the most significant gaps?
  • How closely do the lines of business's operational plans align with the strategic plan for the business?
  • How do we hit the reset button on the past?
  • How can we understand the difference between fact and hearsay, and choose whether to run our business on fact or hearsay?
  • How do we productively change our individual and collective behavior in order to foster the WE?
  • How can I demonstrate getting to WE is good for all of us as well as the business? How do I help people feel good about the change?

Given current workloads, you may well feel there is too much to do and somebody else needs to champion getting to WE. A legitimate perspective.

I close with the question: As a leader in your business with a unique understanding of the impacts, who better to be that catalyst?