Team Management Systems
 

Building a Dream Team: How Victoria's largest homebuilder used the TMS Profiles to develop their leaders

By Ron Jungalwalla
Copyright © Quest Group Australia P/L. All rights reserved.

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In the conservative and competitive building industry, my client had created a corporate culture that valued innovation, cooperation and diversity.

The subsidiary organization started from scratch in 2002 and grew rapidly during the recent real estate boom. As the land development arm of Victoria's largest homebuilder and one of the biggest in Australia, the subsidiary was responsible for sourcing land that could later be used for home developments or resale.

The newly appointed General Manager had the rare opportunity to build a new organization and to shape its culture from the outset. With years of experience in the building industry, he knew what he wanted:

"My goal was to make us the leader in the land development industry. I also had five-year profit targets that I was determined to meet in three years so I could prove the viability of the property development arm."

The question was: how could they achieve a five year plan within three years? The answer, according to my client, lies in the team you build and the culture you create:

"I knew it would take a team who could make decisions quickly; were collaborative, not adversarial; innovative, not conservative, and had leaders, not just managers; to achieve what I wanted. My short timeframe meant I would need to accelerate the team's development and bonding. Not only did I want to create an exemplary management team, I also needed an exemplary team of leaders. To do this, I was prepared to invest."

The program

Every leader of a new team has a choice to either allow the teams' culture to evolve organically or to engineer an environment aligned to your strategic goals. Either way, a culture unique to your team will grow.

As a foundation, we facilitated the establishment of basic rules for the team, before raising their awareness of the challenges that can accompany rapid growth (the Growth Syndrome). We then focused on individual and team work preferences, using the Team Management Profile (TMP) , before turning our attention to enhancing their leadership capacity.

Team ground rules

Our initial sessions were conducted with some twenty team members, where we laid the foundations for the team with three main ground rules. Firstly, we established a clear and common team understanding and commitment to the organizational vision. Secondly, we set up constant and effective communications across the team. Finally, we established a collaborative culture between sub-teams and individuals. These three things must happen before you can move to mould a high-performance team.

The Growth Syndrome

It is ironic that when a business is successful - often as a result of the commitment and hard work by the original small team of employees - the effectiveness of the original team can be diluted by the rapid growth which invariably comes with success. Intimacy is lost. Original team members no longer know everyone and can become disenchanted. The group cannot communicate, make decisions or take action in the same way. A team can regain momentum by reorganizing and introducing sub-teams to restore the intimacy and comradeship. By understanding this, teams can successfully manage the changes brought about by rapid growth.

Leading the way

With the basics established, the General Manager and I then introduced the tools to build the culture into one of high-performance teaming, starting with the leadership team. Each manager was profiled using the Team Management Profile (TMP), to learn about their preferred way of working, and the implications of those preferences.

Historically, the building industry has restricted innovation to design and architecture and this was reflected in the Profiles. There was a shortage of Creator-Innovators and Reporter-Advisers. Reflecting the building industry's bias for action-orientated people, we found many people with the Profile of a Thruster-Organizer or Concluder-Producer.

Intellectually, people responded positively to the Profiles. However, to illustrate the impact that work preferences have on the team's performance, we conducted an experiential exercise. A mock-sales challenge was conducted using a purpose designed High Ropes Course, suspended 15 meters above the ground. Emotions, not just intellect, come into the mix when people are under pressure. This brings out everyone's preferred work style and they can see how individual's Profiles are combining to drive team decisions, interactions and results.

And the outcome? Well even though the team intellectually knew it was important to tap into creative and investigative functions, they kept focusing too much on the 'here and now' - in true Thruster-Organizer and Concluder-Producer -style. Consequently, the team missed the easier and more profitable options that were available through a bigger picture approach. It was a salient lesson. It taught individuals the dangers of homogenous work preferences and the value of diverse approaches to a task. It uncovered their vulnerability without any business loss.

Each of the eight role preferences on the Team Management Wheel needs to be covered. This doesn't mean you need eight people in each team; you just have to know your shortfalls and strategize to cover these functions. I've even seen a team of 14 people who fell into only three of the eight roles. They had strategies to cover the other functions and were a successful team. The team also learned how dangerous it was to under value the 'Innovating' and 'Advising' functions. The team valued people who could get things done right but not people who could ensure that the right things were being done.

Finally, to identify the actions needed to maximize leadership performance, the Linking Skills Profiles were used. The Profiles use 360-degree feedback, providing direct reports with quantitative data on the perceptions of their peers and their CEO about their performance and priorities. According to my client, feedback from the Linking Skills Profile improved their leadership immediately:

"They were not waiting for direction from me anymore. They were empowered and it showed. For example, they immediately and independently wrote the business plan for the following year."

"Having proactive and engaged people is very important. I want volunteers - not people that I have to ask to do things. People who put their hands up and want to be involved perform better. That's the kind of culture I wanted for our organization."

The benefits

According to my client, the benefits for the company from the Team Management Profile were soon apparent:

"When conflict was imminent, it was easier to take preemptive action knowing the preferences of the people involved. We were also able to use the Team Management Systems (TMS) concepts, in particular 'Pacing' to make educated guesses about the work preference profile of some 'old-style' sub-contractors, who we were trying to encourage to be more innovative. Consequently, we had greater success because we knew how to speak with them about the new work practices we were proposing."

"Commitment to process will outsmart a smart guy every time! TMS provides a framework and process that managers and teams are comfortable with and can relate to."

"Collaboration between my direct reports also increased. Instead of focusing only on their individual responsibilities, my employees thought about what was good for the company as a whole. For example, the project manager responsible for 200 homes under construction increased communication with the marketing manager to ensure that his product was completed when needed. Previously, he would have taken a more narrow view and concentrated on his own targets."

I believe the strength of Team Management Systems is it does not try to be one tool for every situation. It is a set of tools with individual applicability. The Team Management Profile is the ideal tool for building teams and the Linking Skills Profiles are the ones I use for developing leadership skills.

Companies that understand, value and manage diversity will be more successful than those who don't. In my experience, Team Management Systems has the best approach for both consultants and clients. It is a critical tool for building exceptional teams.

Copyright © Quest Group Australia P/L. All rights reserved.


As Director and founding Principal of Quest Group Australia P/L, a specialist training and development provider, Ron has a sound understanding of the commercial world. Over the years Ron has successfully led the Quest Group Australia team of facilitators in designing and delivering customized programs for a wide variety of clients covering both private and government sectors and ranging from small business to the largest multinational corporations. The main focus of his work utilizes his knowledge of individual and group dynamics, to enhancing teams and their leaders to their full potential, often using highly innovative and effective experiential based training techniques.

For more information contact Ron by e-mail: ron@questgroup.com.au or visit www.questgroup.com.au.
 

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