Key Steps In Building Transformational Teams

Last week we looked at the premise of building transformational teams and the traits that a leader must ignite, to bring to life the potential of these teams – learning, coaching & mentoring.

At this very minute, one of your high performers may be about to walk out the door…

Today we are going to look at the steps that a leader must embed to build transformational teams. One where you move from inexperienced team members to those who exude mastery and yearn to be inexperienced again.

And yet, we humans also like a certain amount of predictability. If given the chance to see our future in a crystal ball, most of us would peek. We like to flip a switch and the light goes on. When we can forecast the future, we elevate our sense of security. When we believe we control our circumstances, we feel more confident. Even millennials, who often hummingbird from one opportunity to the next, believe that sticking with one company and climbing the corporate ladder is a safer bet for salary growth than switching jobs or entrepreneurship. But, control is an illusion. None of us knows what the future will bring.

It’s a conundrum. Disruption fosters transformation. It also challenges current, and often dearly held, practices without providing clear alternatives. It’s especially murky when it comes to finding the best way to manage your employees.

At the base of the S, progress is relatively slow until a tipping point is reached—the knee of the curve. This is followed by hyper-growth up the steep back of the curve until slow growth occurs again, as market saturation leads to a flattening top of the S.

The S-Curve model also helps us understand the development of and shifts in individual careers. S-Curve math (a subject that still spooks me) tells us that the early days of a role, at the low end of the S, can feel like a slog. Cause and effect are seemingly disconnected. Huge effort yields little. Understanding this helps avoid discouragement.

As we put in days, weeks, and months of practice, we will speed up and move up the S-Curve, roaring into competence and the confidence that accompanies it. This is the exhilarating part of the S -Curve, where all our neurons are firing. It’s the sweet spot.

As we approach mastery, tasks become easier and easier. This is satisfying for a while, but because we are no longer enjoying the feel-good effects of learning, we are likely to get bored. If we stay on the top of a curve too long, our plateau becomes a precipice.

So as a leader you need to manage your team as a collection of S-Curves. Every person is on a S-Curve. You build an ‘A’ team by having 15% at the bottom of the S-Curve. Brand new to the role where lots of stupid questions are being asked. You have 70% of your team in the sweet spot where they are competent and confident. This is where the disruption happens. And then 15% at the top of the S-Curve. You build a disruptive organization by helping these people jump to another S-Curve. If you have too many people at the top of the S-Curve, chances are that you are about to be disrupted. Complacency and boredom will cripple your performance. So when they jump, further transformation can occur. For the individual and the organization.

Often this can be facilitated by a thriving global company. In a recent ‘shuffle’ at a business I am very familiar with, one capable Sales Executive became the regional CEO, and a Retailer Head became the Sales Director. The local Marketing Director became the Global Marketing Director (replaced by someone from global headquarters). The GM of the company’s local ‘Classic’ portfolio became the Global Brand Director of one of the three global brands and was replaced by the GM of it’s enviable Sponsorship & Digital portfolio. In each instance talent is being amplified via new learning curves being adopted. And new creative perspectives being enhanced.

So over the next few weeks we are going to go through each of the 7 steps a leader must embed to build transformational teams.

When people can no longer grow, they get bored and leave, or worse complacent. In fact, if you want to know if disruption is imminent, look at where your workforce is on the S curve.

Based on research around transformation, every organization is a collection of individual S – or learning curves. You build an A-team by optimizing these individual curves.

By managing people all along the S-curve and knowing what to do when they reach the top of the curve. As employees are allowed, even required, to surf their individual S-curve waves, transforming themselves, you will be less vulnerable to disruption and get the gold star – be a boss people want to work for.

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