Improving Team Performance Through Team Building Training
How can leaders sustain elite team performance throughout long and difficult missions? The team tires, momentum sags, and the mission starts to falter.
In this webinar, Thor shares a few “tips and tricks”–strategies and team building training ideas that reclaim and grow the momentum necessary to complete the mission.
Click the image above to view the full 40-minute webinar
Thor discusses what he sees as the defining factors for an elite team performance that he has seen from teams he had the opportunity to work for and with in the corporate world.
If you don’t have time to watch the full webinar right now or just want to review some highlights, we’ve included a few slides from the presentation and their transcriptions below.
Build your team deliberately. Don’t just pick the people that are in your functional group or are in your vicinity. At a minimum, you need the key stakeholders.
Think of the functional groups that may play a role in activity but don’t get used very often. Does compliance need to attend? Legal? How about marketing?
Maybe someone doesn’t play a key role in execution, but their insights or functional perspective are critical – Consider putting him or her on the Red Team. This is the group that takes a look at your draft plan and shoots holes in it to improve it. Red Team members can be anywhere in the world, so think creatively about who you’d like to recruit.
Diversity is key. My team and I flew with 25 allied countries and that added extreme value to the way we approach the world. Those differing approaches to problem-solving were invaluable. Fly with someone from Asia, the Middle East, sometimes in the same formation. The key here, though, to effective and efficient communication, is a common mental model. We just returned from working in Bulgaria with a team comprised of 8 different nations across Europe.
What is the optimal team size? Less than five and we would be capacity constrained, more than 9 and we would have the extroverts dominating over the introverts. We, potentially, could find ourselves advocating for our positions instead of having a constructive dialogue. At a minimum, you should have some ways as the leader of engaging the introverts and leveling the playing field.
As F-15 pilots, we never flew with more than 8 aircraft in a single formation. We even set up our communication system so that we would focus our interactions between those key eight people. Two radios within the cockpit – one for our 8 ship, and another for the entire engagement. SEALs used the same approach for elite team performance by breaking up their platoon into two 8 member squad.
Key Team Roles
There are three key roles that must be fulfilled on every team.
The Ace role is the tactical leader of the group. Don’t underestimate the importance of this role. It should be someone who 1 – understands the subject, 2 – wants the job, 3 – has the capacity to fulfill the role. This person will work behind the scenes to ensure the mission runs smoothly. If you’ve done missions with us as a team member before, you’ve probably marveled at the fact that we only get the group together once a week for 15 minutes. The dirty little secret is the Ace is doing a lot of behind the scenes coordinating and communicating so that the weekly meetings are concise, focused and keep the mission on track.
The Champion is another critical role. This is a strategic leader that will emphasize missions and ensure that they are strategically relevant to the organization. Typically, the Champion would not be the same person as the Ace. The Champion can oversee 5-7 missions at a time, while the Ace can handle at best 1 or 2 missions, at most. Typical Champion responsibilities include communicating the strategic why to the team, communicating the success of key missions to the org, removing tough popup threats, and enforcing/emphasizing mission importance.
The third role is often overlooked, but I’ve seen it hinder elite team performance when teams didn’t have one. That’s The Scribe. The scribe captures data during live weekly meetings and is the support asset for the Ace. This is the person that will run the session for the Ace if the Ace is on PTO or is called away for another project. We see this happen in about 15% of the Missions we support. It’s a big popup threat if we don’t have a backup Ace that has strong situational awareness for this Mission.
Team + Mission
It’s been said over and over again – people really only want two things in life: Put me with an incredible team on an inspiring mission.
For those of you that know my story and know that I’m a stage IV cancer survivor, you know that I was told to prepare to die within the next year back in 2010. As I looked back on my life, times I was most proud of weren’t the ones I thought they would be. It wasn’t getting the F-15 assignment or throwing my hat up in the air at the AFA, it was those times that I was part of an incredible group on an inspiring mission that was bigger than me. Whether that was with my squadron in the F-15, my friends on the AFA rugby team, or my family – those were the memories that mattered. I think you will experience something similar.
You can provide this for your teams. It doesn’t have to be flying F-15’s or building the next iPhone. You can create this same level of dedication and excitement about any mission, but you have to define the destination, bring on the right team members, create the simplest path to success as possible. Just like leaders, elite teams are not just born, they’re made very deliberately, and you can build them too.
Establish an imperative you team is bought into and will work towards. This imperative is often organization wide.
Are you a part of an elite team today? Have you ever been part of an elite team? Think back to a time when you did feel like you were part of elite team performance. I’m guessing that you knew exactly what you wanted to accomplish together, and also believed that this imperative was not something you could do by yourselves. Think long-term – what’s the reason for this team’s existence? If we can’t come up with the reasoning, then it may not need to exist. Don’t waste your team members’ time having meetings and group sessions just for the sake of doing it. Fewer teams, fewer team members, so you can the focus on those critical few.
About the Speaker:
Joel “Thor” Neeb, President, Afterburner, leads our team of more than 70 elite military professionals. On this month’s webinar, he will share his personal insight on how to maintain a high performing team when you’re mid-mission. Thor has helped achieve strategic objectives and foster elite teams for Fortune 100 companies within the tech industry, pharmaceuticals, finance, medical devices, retail apparel and several NFL teams.