Recipe for Highly Effective Teams

All too often, companies waste their hard earned profits on team building efforts that result in little, or no, improvement in performance. If the only results the leadership wants to see are to have fun and spend some cash, then that is perfectly fine. However, if the leadership desires highly effective teams, then they will need to follow the recipe for teamwork.

As with most recipes, it is recommended you adhere to each step at first. After getting some experience, it will be safe to adjust ingredients to the team’s personal taste.

Step 1:

Pre-condition the environment for the changes in team operating principles. It is important that the environment is set just right, or the team will not reach its optimal performance. This collection of people will, from this point forward, be known as a team. The team will be expected to accomplish certain things and achieve specified results.
The environment, also known a culture, should be generously and evenly coated with leadership. The leader must set the tone for a collaborative and cooperative culture. Although there have been cases where highly effective teams exist in an environment with the boss rules with fear and intimidation, it is very rare.

Step 2:

Add equal and significant amounts of Missionand Values to the organization and each individual person on the team. It is widely known, that people cannot operate effectively if they don’t know where they are going. The more people understand the mission, the more likely they are to be effective. The more they believe and live by the values, the more likely they are to be engaged.
Add a good dose of understanding individual roles and responsibilities.
Team members must be aware of how everything they do supports the mission and how they are expected to relate to others. People on poor performing teams often do not understand how their efforts affect the overall mission.

Every individual on the team must have their own goals. They must have one or two primary and several secondary goals. When they achieve these goals, the mission will be accomplished. The individual goals should come from the person and not the boss. They can and should work together on identifying the goal, but the individual must make a personal commitment to attaining the goal. This commitment to performance will only come about, if the individual believes the changes are important to them personally.

Step 3:

Now fold in a clearly defined operating process for team members to follow. Every successful team has established rules and guidelines for members to follow. These processes should include how team members should communicate internally and externally. They should tell members how they should resolve conflict and encourage each other. Problem solving mechanisms are also included in these processes. Effective operating processes also help build the “chemistry” among the team players. This chemistry comes from every team member having the just the right amount of attitude and engagement.

An attitude of cooperation, collaboration, and compromise will go a long way in creating an effective team.

This is where a good deal of trust is folded into the mixture. Every team process is based on trust. Team members must trust the leader and each other. Team members cannot take individual credit for team accomplishments. As the old saying goes; there is no “I” in team. It is true however, that a team consists of a number of “I”ndividuals.


Just a dash of attention must be given to the way team members interact with each other.
They must respect and assist each other if the team is expected to excel. Team members and leaders must reinforce positive team behaviors and deal with team behavioral issues. Just the right blend of people, doing the right jobs, will make for great team results. A sprinkle of attention should be directed to how team members interact with others outside the team. All too often, a highly performing team can alienate outsiders and find their mission is compromised because of external factors. A team can never be more important than the overall company mission and objectives.


Finally, sprinkle in rewards to taste. Rewards must be appropriate for the team and it is most effective if the entire team receives the reward. The fastest way to make a good team go bad, is to select one or two team members and recognize the team efforts trough them. If everyone achieved their individual goals, then everyone should share accordingly. Ask the team members, they will tell you if it’s fair.

That is, if the environment is right in the first place.

The mix of these ingredients will make a high performance team. The secret is how to adjust the quantities of each and just the right blend for your company and group of individuals. Through years of experience with building high performance teams, Terry “TJ” Wisner, has developed an effective process to inspire leaders and teams to make the necessary changes to achieve higher levels of performance. Cook up the right recipe for highly effective teams and become more successful.

3 Keys to Building a Sense of Belonging.

Associations are really in the teambuilding business!

Most of my research over the years has been in the area of effective teams. In the past three years I have worked with several associations and have concluded that the elements of success for building highly effective teams are the same for highly effective associations. In order to have a high performing team or association, a strong sense of belonging must exist.

Like teams, associations must focus on this sense of belonging to enhance overall effectiveness and in the case of associations, membership value. Three key elements need to exist in order to facilitate a greater sense of belonging:

Include and exclude

Set boundaries that make membership exclusive to the extent possible and necessary. When the fans enter the “Big House”on Saturday afternoon to watch Michigan play football, there are generally 105,000 that are fans “members” of the Michigan group and 4,000 fans of the other teams. It is easy to see who is in and who is out.

A common language is also very important. Use acronyms, logos, certificates, levels of membership and encourage exclusivity.

A sense of belonging is enhanced through clarity of who is included and who is not.

Safety in numbers-

Humans naturally like to be, or feel a part of something bigger. Neighborhoods, churches, alumni groups, clubs and associations are few examples of organizations people can join and feel comfortable. But comfort commonly doesn’t last. Membership isn’t enough!

Just as in teams, associations and their members must share common goals.

Most people join associations to increase their “bottom line.” Individuals define that “bottom line” in many different ways and the more successful an association is at understanding their member’s “bottom line”, the more value they can deliver. However, if an association maintains a laser-like focus on increasing membership and revenue, it will become apparent to their members and the sense of belonging will be diminished.

Being part of a higher purpose engenders a powerful sense of belonging.

Input/ Output Ratio-

This element is most often misunderstood. People don’t just want more!

Research has shown that people are more satisfied when they feel their results are equal to or greater than their expense. In other words, the more they are involved…the more they get in return. Associations will create a much greater sense of belonging by increasing the input to output ratio. All too frequently, associations center activities around “serving” benefits to their membership while underutilizing their member’s willingness to be more engaged.

Now this is where you are thinking; “This guy is crazy!”

Look, simply asking members to volunteer to perform a task is not what we are talking about here. Doing things does not equal engagement.

In an effort to attain the highest sense of belonging, make sure your members believe they will get more if they give more.

This past Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Michigan football program produced a very high sense of belonging. Just ask the other 104,999 Wolverine fans that were there.

Highly effective teams and associations maintain a high sense of belonging because they set boundaries, share common goals and are engaging.

Go for the Easy Pieces!

There I was, sitting on the patio watching the little sparrow tugging on the three foot piece of ornamental grass from our “Asian Garden.” He (or she) was committed to getting that specific piece of long dead grass to build his nest. He had a plan to build the best nest in the trees. And he wasn’t afraid of hard work, in that he tugged and tugged on this grass for nearly twenty minutes.

All the while, several other sparrows made many trips to retrieve 3-5″ pieces of grass and take them to their nest. I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually got several feet of nest building materials while my stubborn little buddy tugged on the well connected winterized blade of grass. Much to my amazement, the feathered little tough guy actually severed the blade from the plant. And yet again, another major task was at hand (or wing). How to get the blade to the nest construction site?

The meager tiny guy looked like an exhausted runner crossing the finish line of a marathon. As he tried to fly the grass would wrap around his body and disable his ability to fly. In what looked like a series of the Wright Brothers first flights, he flew only a foot or two, landed (or crashed), flew another foot or two, crashed and finally got to the tree. Flying up into the tree was another act of determination from this sturdy little creature.

At last, he finally got the 3′ long blade of ornamental grass to the site of his nest. Only to find that it was too inflexible to function as good nest building material. There, nearly twenty feet up the pine was a cluster of unused 2-4′ ornamental grass reeds.

Have you ever felt as though you’re tugging and tugging on your “Big Blade of Grass” hoping for the big payoff? Maybe your plan should allow you to pick up the small easy pieces and build a comfortable nest as opposed to aiming for the “Big Prize” and never getting it.

Make sure you have a realistic plan to achieve your hopes and dreams. Be Your Own Chief Performance Officer!

Take Negotiations to the Dogs

Whenever I am working with sales teams, the topic of effective negotiations often arises. In my thirty years of sales experience, I have attended many hours of negotiations training. For the record, the best was from the Karrass organization and my friend Frank Mobus, but I digress.
Another rich negotiation experience was when I served as a Labor negotiator for General Motors with (or against) the UAW. Keep in mind, I don’t teach negotiation skills, but I often share several of the best tips I have learned over the years. One of which is what I call “the confused dog look.” Whenever your customer or the “other side” offers a counter-proposal or a concern, just simply tilt your head and don’t say a thing. Most of the time they will drop their issue, recant there statement, or better yet simply agree with your proposal.
Why this topic today?
This morning I saw the best example of how to teach this technique. So thanks to YouTube, here is a great 30 second video example of the “Confused Dog Look.”   Enjoy!
If improving your effective negotiation skill is a high priority for you, and why wouldn’t it be if you are in sales, try this…it works!