Jack had just been appointed as the new business unit head of a major pharmaceutical company. I was assigned to be Jack’s coach in 2014. Jack was elated about his new job, but also a bit worried. His predecessor had left quite suddenly, and given his predecessor’s relatively long tenure and strong relationships with his leadership team, Jack was concerned that some of the team members might leave, as well.
Jack’s first priority was to stabilize his team. He asked me, “How can I build a strong stable team when there are obvious loyalties to my predecessor?” I coached Jack on first building solid one-on-one relationships with his leadership team and then working on developing the team. I mentored him on shifting the paradigm by creating a new team culture, which could supersede the influence of any previous relationship. The new team culture would create a powerful team identity. What the team needed and was missing was High TQ.
Jack agreed but lamented, “I don’t know where to start and I need to move fast!” I suggested that the entire team take the TQ HealthCheck to diagnose their current state. The results came back crystal clear: this leadership team needed to focus on trust building, feedback, camaraderie and meeting effectiveness, and reinforce its identity. The TQ score came out as 38/50 (50 is the top score), meaning it was already a “Performing Team,” but Jack wasn’t satisfied, exclaiming, “I want to go for a High Performance Team!”
In December 2015, we engaged in a two-day offsite program to build the culture and identity of the team. Feedback, trust, meeting effectiveness, and camaraderie were stressed. At the end of the program, the shift was palpable; the team was clearly aligned on what kind of team it wanted to be and how to get there. Back at the office, the team practiced the new habits and rituals to which it had committed, and championed many team initiatives.
After about eight months, Jack and I talked about how the team was progressing, He said, “I’m happy about the ongoing transformation, yet I sense some of the old habits and turf building creeping back in.” I noted, “It’s normal that between six-to-nine months after a TQ-team offsite, stagnation will set in. That means it’s time for ‘round two.’”
In December of 2016, we proceeded to the second offsite program to take stock of progress, learn how to deepen the relationships and trust, and move forward. It was at this offsite that the team had its breakthrough realization that “our team welfare is more important than team members’ individual welfares.” The team identity was beginning to crystallize.
In mid 2017, Jack’s team took the TQ HealthCheck the second time and earned a TQ score of 44/50. It was a major breakthrough, and we certified Jack’s team as a High Performance Team! The leadership team had transformed those areas of weakness (trust, feedback, camaraderie) into strengths.
Yet the power of Jack’s leadership team extended beyond itself to include the entire business unit team consisting of thousands of people. The company’s highly visible annual engagement survey showed an improvement of Jack’s entire business unit from 53% engagement in 2014 to 79% in 2017! Thus we witnessed a strong correlation between a High-TQ leadership team and high overall engagement. How did this happen? The leaders on Jack’s team brought the energy, values, and focus they had gained as part of the leadership team into their own teams, as well, providing a potent effect. A strong leadership team affects the entire organization in a powerful way.
But it didn’t stop there. Jack’s team went on to become the most successful team within all business units in key performance indicators. They surpassed their targets on most measures, becoming a star team.
For Jack’s team, what had been missing was High TQ. The two years of focus, dedication, and willingness to spend the time and energy to move to High TQ paid off for Jack’s team.
Douglas Gerber is Founder and CEO of Focus One, a consulting firm that helps leaders create High Performance Teams. After 23 years as a corporate executive, he developed a reputation for building successful teams. Later, as a consultant, he has personally worked with leaders from over 70 companies to develop their own winning Teams. Drawing from his own extensive background and 10 years of research, Douglas innovated the concept of “Team Quotient” (TQ). He is a thought leader in the area of team transformation. Learn more about Douglas and his upcoming book Team Quotient: How to Build High Performance Leadership Teams that Win Every Time on www.douglasgerber.com