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Teaming with Young Guns

This month’s Gifted Leaders e-Newsletter features a January 2016 strategy+business blog post by Katherine Dugan. Attracting and retaining high-potential employees is increasingly difficult at any level and of any age. What is particularly challenging, though, is finding and keeping millennials who currently represent the largest generational cohort in the workforce. The answer to this dilemma is relatively simple: it’s all about teams!

Highlights from the Article

There are 53.5 million people in the U.S. who were born between 1981 and 1997. It is often said that they expect to glide up the corporate ladder, place a higher priority on engaging in fulfilling work, and have significantly shorter attention spans than employees of prior generations. If it becomes apparent to a millennial that one of these expectations will not be met, they are often quick to look elsewhere.

Companies are addressing these issues by rethinking their recruiting and people strategies, both by offering rotational programs to appeal to highly qualified candidates and by boosting pay and offering an impressive array of perks. But there is a far simpler and more pragmatic solution that individual managers can try that may have more success than bonuses and free snacks. It’s all about teams.

Focusing on the following three attributes of effective teaming can help companies appeal to younger workers:

  1. Shared Leadership. Shared leadership roles means that leadership switches seamlessly from one member of the team to another, depending on the situation. Everyone, from the summer intern through the managing director, has the opportunity to lead at specific points in time. Managers should hand off elements of their roles to subordinates, giving team members the opportunity to lead in areas where they have expertise. The manager simultaneously should act as a facilitator – easing the leadership transition from one member of the team to another – and as a key leader who understands the team’s motivations and how to help each team member grow and develop.

  2. Strong emotional commitment. Millennials are seeking fulfillment from their work, and fulfillment comes from an emotional commitment to the organization, team, or individual’s purpose. Leaders must explain, repeatedly, why the team’s purpose is important. Leaders also should take pains to understand the motivations of each team member so they can identify the components of the purpose that will light a spark – it will be different for different people. Finally, they should help the team learn to connect smaller tasks to the bigger picture.

  3. Be flexible. High-performing teams adjust teaming models depending on the situation. Team structures and ways of working should vary depending on the nature of the project or assignment and the time horizon involved. Having a variety of working arrangements will appeal to millennials, who tend to have shortened attentions spans and appreciate a more dynamic environment at work.

A “performing team” is a group of people that typically have a common purpose and have clear performance goals, mutual accountability, complementary skills, and, importantly, shared leadership roles. The highest-performing teams also adjust their teaming models depending on the situation, have a strong emotional commitment to the team’s purpose, and are invested in one another’s success.

Read the article here.

The Gifted Perspective

In their book, Extraordinary Groups (Jossey-Bass, 2009), our colleagues Geoff Bellman and Kathleen Ryan identified a set of key performance indicators that are typically exhibited by extraordinary groups and teams. Three of the indicators, Shared Leadership, Compelling Purpose (strong emotional commitment), and Just-Enough Structure (be flexible) correlate directly to the attributes of effective teaming that Katherine Dugan highlights in her s+b blog post.

In our experience coaching business teams, we’ve observed that, if they can get these three things right, they are more likely to enjoy Full Engagement, Strengthened Relationships, Profound Learning, and Great Results (both tangible and intangible) which are some of the additional indicators defined by Bellman and Ryan.

We can help you create an extraordinary team experience through our customized executive and team coaching services!

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