May 18, 2016

Guest Writer: Laura Van Houtte, Designer of Opportunities, Michigan Planners

Nobody shows up for work saying, “I hope I don’t make a contribution today.”

Yet, when you examine most company teams under a detective lens, you will often find several broken pieces – personality issues, missed deadlines, and lack of action.  These don’t make for very good teams.

According to Kelly Clements, founder and owner of The Entreprenewer, a coaching firm that assists in teambuilding, using the Kolbe assessment is a great first step for improving group performance. These assessments identify each individual’s mode of operation (MO), the natural and instinctive way each individual – regardless of education, age, or gender – performs projects.

“We are looking at each other through our own lenses,” said Clements. “Kolbe measures MO, and because our MO is instinctual, it's perfectly natural to assume everyone operates like we do.  We manage based on what works for us. Doing so not only leads to frustration, but it leaves so much natural potential dormant in our teams.”

Some individuals naturally like to take a project and run with it. Person A, for example, may take a project and enter implementation mode just seconds after hearing the details. Person B, on the other hand, may prefer to digest the information, wait a day, and then take the first step. Both instincts are okay – and unchangeable!

There is no magic pill to adjust the natural instinct, but you can start with the design of your team.

Take the implementation of a new software system, for example.  It is important to assign the project manager, process manager, and implementation specialist, according to each person’s unique makeup.  Using certain tests, such as the Kolbe assessment, will identify the members who are best suited to respond quickly, keep everyone on track, and follow through on tasks.

Clements adds, “The biggest impact is helping them with the ‘project abyss’. Companies are often full of creative ideas but never seem to get them to completion.”

Luella Sherman, Human Resources Manager for The Genesee Group (dba Genesee Packaging), has seen great transformations through the development of teams.

The company involves workers at all levels and across various departments to execute the systems it has in place, as well as improve processes and enhance performance.

“Some of the best ideas can come from the quietest people.  When working as a team, you can bring out the creativeness from that person and even help him or her become a leader,” Sherman said.

Opportunities for training, professional advancement, and skill development may also support peak performance, both in an individual and within a group.

Sherman continues, “We are always training.  What I see especially in production is that the supervisors and managers pick up on people who may display leadership qualities, who are not necessarily in a leadership position, and train them in other skills that may lead into leadership positions.”

Dream teams are not developed over night, but given the right set of tools, opportunities, and vision, members will begin to better understand their potential as well as that of their fellow coworkers.