The way I see it, teams fall into 3 different categories. There are dysfunctional teams, good teams and then there are great teams. One of the ways to tell which team you have is to know that every single team has a set of rules that they use to interact with each other.

For a dysfunctional team, a rule could be: It’s us versus them. So an example of that would be that there is a meeting of the managers and everyone agrees that they are going to work on a new venture. Then three or four of the managers go into a separate meeting and the conversation goes like this: “I can’t believe we’re doing something so stupid. These guys are idiots.” So they can’t share it with the larger group because they have found that it is ‘us versus them’. And that is how you get silos in the companies.

When you have a good team, sometimes the rules of engagement go like this: 1. Don’t rock the boat. Everyone is doing a good job, the company is growing and it is as if we use the metaphor of a car, they don’t have the foot on the gas accelerating. They have got the cruise control on. It’s comfortable, no one is hurting, and we are growing. Let’s just not rock the boat.

Then you have a strong team, a great team. There you have the passion, the drive, the urgency. The rule of engagement could be: Never take your foot off the gas. That is how these people are wired. So no matter where your company is, the first thing you need to do is to transform your team into a strong team where there is passion, drive and urgency. There is no selfish behavior. In other videos they show you how to do that but once you have defined that team, you have got that level of commitment then you can bring in the rules of engagement that make your team stronger and keep you there.

I have worked with dozens of companies and the number one feedback is that when we have these rules of engagement that were the glue that held everything together and the tools we used to help everything grow faster. So let me give you an example of one of these rules: I was working with a client and one of the concerns was that they keep on making mistakes but they don’t seem to fix them fast enough. And they articulate it saying that, “We make excuses for that kind of behavior.” One of the new rules that everyone learnt was that we can ask the question, “Are we making excuses?” So if someone thinks someone else is making an excuse they can ask this question, the other person does not get their feeling hurt. Sometimes the answer could be yes and other times probably not. The reason you would be doing that is because of a certain government regulation or a particular business need. So take a look at your company and see if you can uncover the rules of engagement that would give you the results you are getting right now.

About the author 

Umar Hameed


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