Joe Pentlicki Vice President/COO, Oliver Manufacturing

Sometimes taking on a life of their own, teams can be very dynamic and be a driving force in helping companies meet new goals and deliver real-world solutions to the challenges and complexities before us.

“Nine out of 10 companies agree that the problems confronting them are now so complex that teams are essential to provide effective solutions. To achieve superior performance, companies need to tap into the full range of skills and expertise at their disposal,” according to a report by Ernst & Young.

The most successful teams use what I call the 3-C strategy: Culture. Communication. Challenge.

Culture is important, and you must recognize and understand the culture of your own company. We know team members must fit the culture of our organization. Some folks are inherently not team-oriented. In an organization, such as Oliver, where it is about the collective effort leading to the collective result, you need folks who will fit into that type of culture. Being able to bring folks along in your collaborative, team-oriented culture is critical to building our team.

Another key element in building a strong team is communication. This not just about communicating everything that is known; it’s about creating systems and processes such that there is a flow of information necessary for our team’s success. A simple way to think about this is having each team member consider what information they need to know and what information they need to share with whom. Then, you need to create the forums where information sharing can occur. Internally, we do this through regular team meetings, project meetings and stand-up huddle meetings at the start of the day or as needed.

The last element — what I see as maybe the most critical piece — is challenging a team to grow. This should require folks to get out of their comfort zones, to try things differently, or to do things that they have not done before. If we are always comfortable, we are not growing as individuals. With this challenge, we also have to remember that sometimes things will not go as planned. It’s important to create learning opportunities from these situations. We do this by debriefing, trying to understand what did not go as planned, and what we can collectively do differently going forward.

By focusing on culture, communication and challenge, teams can focus on the mission at hand. Putting the right teams together with the 3-C strategy can give you a competitive advantage, and who’s not after that?