Let’s consider your car for a minute. It’s your reliable workhorse that you have created quite a dependency on. It gets you to work, your kids to school, takes you for your leisure time.
In return you look after it. You take it to the garage at least once a year for a service and testing. When it starts to make funny noises you get anxious and take it to be looked at and any problems resolved. You clean it, check the tyres and keep its tank filled with fuel whenever it needs it.
Now consider your team. They are one of the most important factors in ensuring your success at work. They are there to take on tasks, give support and rally behind your goals and ambitions.
How often do you ensure that everything is running smoothly? How much time do you take out with them to guarantee that you are all aligned and working to the same ends? When you hear the metaphorical squeal coming from their engine, with the suggestion that all is not quite right, do you stop, take the foot of the accelerator and focus on making it work better or do you keep the same pressure on and demand they travel just as fast as they were before?
Too often we do not give our teams the attention they need. In a pressured working environment we often keep driving them past the point at which we should have paused and taken stock of their needs. Teams are the product of continual maintenance and support, and to ignore what makes them successful is to sow the seeds of failure.
Successful team functioning comes from being able to balance three things – the business need, the science that makes the team function and the social glue that builds commitment to the challenge and each other. Perhaps sometimes we focus too much on one area than another – you might have a team that socialises every week, that is completely comfortable in each other’s company, but which doesn’t know how to function as a unit; you might have a team that knows the business inside out but barely know each other and what makes them tick.
The most valuable teams are the ones which can keep all these factors in alignment, dialling them up and down according to need. Team servicing is the art of keeping this balance in place, paying attention to all areas as required before the gaps emerge and cause irretrievable damage – just as keeping an eye on your brakepads and the state of your tyres stops you from having a crash, investing in your team ahead of a crisis will be something you never regret.