10-06-2017 / blog / Dan Korving

FROM EGO TO LEGO: HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY (RE)BUILD TEAMS

With Lego, you can build everything. In this blog I will give you three useful building blocks that can help you successfully (re)build your teams.

 

As a child I was absolutely addicted to Lego. And, I must confess, I still am. If I happen to be in a toyshop, I always visit the Lego department where I amaze myself about all the creative and cool kits on offer. So, imagine this: you’re building a Lego City police and hospital kit with a friend and fellow Lego enthusiast. But she isn’t really cooperating. In stead, she is frustrating the process. Mixing blocks ups and even throwing them on the floor to annoy you.

Now, you wouldn’t expect that behaviour from a grownup, let alone a Lego enthusiast, would you? Doesn’t make any sense, too. Does it?

Well…

 

A police chief once told me that some police units can’t or won’t cooperate with each other, because the two officers who made it to unit chiefs never settled a squabble that took place thirty years ago. In a series of incidents in multiple Dutch hospitals, patients died of a direct result of lack of trust, cooperation and unspoken conflicts between doctors.

As a consultant, I sometimes am confronted with resistance. I find this to be part of the job, as in most cases you are seen as or even are the harbinger of change. Something not everyone is willing to embrace directly. The rather extreme examples mentioned above all come down to one simple denominator: egos that collide like tectonic plates, sometimes causing earthquakes or even volcanic eruptions.

Now, when it comes to a good team, ego's should always be subservient to the team goals. I find Team Sky to be good example of this, as I wrote in a previous blog (in Dutch). But when ego's cause your team to underperform, irresponsibly burning funds and resources or even inflicting health or safety issues something is seriously wrong.

When this is the case: you need to act immediately. So here are three useful building blocks for successfully (re)building teams.

 

1) Trust
Trust comes on foot, but leaves on horseback. Building trust in teams can be a painstakingly slow but necessary process. Without trust, teams can’t function. It’s the foundation of your team. Without a proper foundation, you can’t build anything let alone place your building blocks. It’s as simple as that. But for trust to come, you need an environment where trust can live long and prosper and team members can feel safe. So be honest and open on the purpose and process of building a/the team. Communicate openly and actively on matters regarding the team and stimulate team members to do so too. Focus on things that are going good, improve things that good be going better. But never, ever promise things you can’t deliver.

2) People are people
It’s in my experience that people never resist without an underlying reason causing them to do so. This reason could be found somewhere very deep. It could be something from the near or distance past. Whatever it is, you need to figure out where this resistance is coming from, what’s causing it and why it’s happening. Always ask open questions, show interest and don’t judge. A senior executive once told me that ‘he was planning to change the whole culture of the organisation within five years’. I asked him if he’d ever realised that real culture change can take up to a generation (See: Organizational Change Theories, a Synthesis by Christiane Demers, 2007). He didn’t, and persisted. Fuelling resistance and misunderstanding for his plans. You need to acknowledge the past in order to change the future.

 

3) Co creation
Change can’t be imposed or inflicted top down, it needs to be ignited bottom up. Whether it’s part of designing, implementing or running an (IT) solution or igniting organisational change, there are virtually hundreds of methods of shaping organisations, optimising and digitalising processes and organisational structures.  This is our core business here at Conclusion. Providing solutions and solving complex issues for our clients and customers is what makes ours eyes go bright and hearts go faster with excitement. This is what I personally love about my job as a consultant. Having said that, one of the biggest mistakes I encounter in my practice is the lack of involving team members in decision-making. Involve your team members in this process wherever you can. Avoid (the perception of) back room politics. Set goals with your team instead of imposing them over the team, in order for them to become shared goals and, with that, a shared effort. Do not be afraid to display vulnerability in the goal shaping process, but be firm and confident about committing to achieving the goals once they are set.

Get started
Do you want to get started and ignite change or need further help or advice on (re)building your team(s)? Feel free to contact me.