Traditional team principles and many cutting-edge collaborative practices are ineffective for the way people need to work today. The result is poor execution of critical work.
Today’s teams are often larger and more fluid than conventional teams, and work is increasingly interdependent. Our research has put the spotlight on the downside of the technologies and organizational designs intended to improve collaboration—and revealed how top-performing leaders are managing collaboration in these groups differently.
Pairing leadership research with decades of data about the networks within organizations, we can now help other leaders drive efficiency and agility at the point of execution—where teams are working on new products, strategic initiatives or with top clients.
To become more efficient, effective and agile, leaders must understand and activate informal networks and engage team members in specific ways. Key strategies include:
- Manage four network dimensions. To ensure groups are working together and information and ideas flow, leaders need to facilitate connectivity at four critical points in the network: the center, the fringe, select silos and external boundaries.
- Overcome dysfunctional patterns of collaboration. Even with the best talent, failure to effectively manage collaborative patterns consistently results in patterns of connectivity that de-rail teams. Our research shows 6 archetypes of team failure. For example, the hub and spoke—over-reliance on one or a small set of leaders or experts—results in slow decision making, burnout of individuals and lack of engagement from the team. The opposite archetype, the over-whelmed team—derails performance when all team members are overly involved resulting in insufficient time to do individual work, inefficient decision making and lower engagement.
- Create a climate of trust, purpose and energy. The level and quality of interpersonal collaboration has a significant impact on employee engagement. Our research revealed that effective collaboration is driven by relationships in which people experience trust, gain purpose and feel energized—and specific leadership behaviors that create that environment.
- Shape the external ecosystem for performance and engagement. Leaders create the context for their teams to succeed by adapting what is in their control and working around what is not. We know six practices are key: shape the work coming in, obtain resources, influence decision makers and influencers, adapt best practices for quality and efficiency, innovate via adjacent expertise and cultivate team member connectivity.
MIT Sloan Management Review
Manage Networks of Relationships, Not Just Teams
Teams are the primary structure for getting work done, but the reality of teamwork has changed.
Many employees are on twice as many teams as 5 years ago, with 81%-95% actively serving on multiple teams simultaneously. Is it surprising that 60% of teams fail to meet their strategic objectives?
Our research consistently shows that managing collaboration and cultivating networks inside and outside of teams is a significant driver of success.
Apply the Network Strategy
Today’s teams are often larger and more fluid than traditional teams, making many conventional management practices ineffective.
Through customized leadership development programs and consulting, corporate retreats and events, and courses and tools, Rob helps leaders activate informal networks and engage team members to become more efficient, effective and agile where it matters most—at the point of execution.
Activate Networks at the Point of Execution
Try our new tools to earn better results, faster.
- NEW! Agility Accelerator
A powerful new way to envision collaboration
- NEW! Team Agility Workbook
A step-by-step guide for leaders