Geese fly in V-formation for aerodynamic efficiency. Are management and staff focused on reaching a common goal through teamwork? How do you know if your teams are staying focused and flying in a V-formation to generate customer retention and loyalty?
Why do geese fly in V-Formation? A goose’s eyes are set in the sides of its head, giving good all-round vision but leaving a small blind spot directly ahead and behind. If a goose were to follow directly behind the one in front, it would have to turn its head slightly to see it clearly and would have to resort to asymmetrical flapping to maintain a straight course, reducing its aerodynamic efficiency and wasting energy. Experiments have shown 25 geese flying in a V can travel 70 percent further than solo birds. The birds function more efficiently in a group working together.
The same should be said for your organization. Every employee should be focused on reaching a common goal through teamwork and collaboration. Team responsibilities should be clearly defined, and management should provide strategy and support by identifying the strengths of each team member. Team members should be selected to complement one another by utilizing their differing skills and experience.
Jim Collins, in his best-selling book Good to Great asks the question: Do you have the right people on the bus? In this regard, Collins says that the executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.
In my experience as an Executive and Corporate Team Coach, the initial steps to increase team performance and global organizational productivity are:
- Have a clear understanding of the skills and behavioral profiles of each team member. Forthis purpose we have been successfully applying personal and professional assessment tools that have given us the opportunity to help our clients make a better decision at the moment of hiring a new employee or building a team for a specific strategic purpose.
- Evaluate the organizational “flying formation”. Two critical questions that are often asked by senior management are, “How do we know that resources have been properly allocated, and how can we better utilize our limited resources?” The use of organizational assessments has given our clients the opportunity to answer both questions, providing information as to how well critical elements are working together to achieve business and strategic goals.
Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, but working together is success.” For a thousand years, humanity has proven that working together generates an energy so powerful that is able to create unimaginable things. The Great Wall of China and the Pyramids in Egypt are just examples of teamwork and collaboration.
Teams that have fun and enjoy their work will focus on even higher goals and be more willing to get the job done, as opposed to employees that commit only to a boring existence of working their shift each day with no incentives.
If you are the leader of an organization or a head of a department or division, it is your responsibility to:
- Create the strategy to enforce teamwork in the organization or division.
- Provide positive reinforcement. If at all possible, throw a party, have an outing or invite your team for an informal get-together after work. Even if you can celebrate a team’s success with pizza for lunch or a cake during a break, it is another positive reinforcement of the team effort and a building block to future successes.
- Provide support and improve the teamwork processes.
- Recognize and regard excellence in teamwork.
If you think 1+2=5 is a miscalculation, think again. Teamwork and collaboration, just like the geese flying in V-formation can take you 70% beyond your goals.