By Paul Roos, The Australian

As much as I am still passionate about football and love watching the Demons climb up the Premiership ladder, my new venture Performance by Design is providing my next great challenge.

Joining three other experts in leadership and creating our own company has allowed me to have a closer look at the corporate world. One aspect that has stood out to me is how to create a team within your organisation. This is definitely a common challenge.

Most companies have different departments that may not work directly with other departments but clearly rely on each other to deliver the end result. The fact that these different silos of the organisation don’t spend much time together creates obvious problems.

Do they see themselves as one big team or many small teams?

Think about this different mindset. If you don’t ultimately see yourself as one large team how can you work together harmoniously?

After running a recent workshop it was obvious that this particular group of people who worked in different departments didn’t see themselves as one collective team. They worked very well in their separate groups but this four-team mentality meant they were almost competing against one another.

It was a competition of who could be the best individual department. They were each trying to do the best job they could but had little sympathy or understanding of how they could help each other or deliver a better outcome for the company.

Do you know what the roles of the other teams are?

There is clearly a danger if you don’t work collectively that you will have no understanding of exactly what role each member of the other department performs.

If you have no idea of their exact role, how can you hope to help them and vice versa how can they be expected to help you? Therefore things that should go smoothly and quickly take far longer because in the early stages of development no one is helping each other. The mentality is: well, our department has done its job, now it is your turn to do yours.

How can you have honest conversations?

If you don’t see yourselves as one collective, large team of people you are less likely to get to know each other. If you don’t get to know people on a more personal level how can you have conversations around how we can collectively make this company better?

The conversations only take place in each smaller department and become competitive and often divisive. Instead of trying to figure out a problem by communicating to the person that can genuinely help you from the other department, we tend to guess the answer and never solve the problem.

One of the great aspects of going to a football game is that it gives you a helicopter view of business. Imagine if you went to watch the reigning premiers Richmond on the weekend and you saw the backline, midfield, and forward line working independently. All week they had no interaction and they are operating in their three different departments. Clearly in their own areas they would deliver on their responsibilities but collectively there would be huge problems.

Ultimately, they could not deliver the optimal result for their fans and each other. Depending on the size of the company, you must find a way to drive this “one team” concept. Don’t think it will just happen no matter how big or small your organisation is. The most obvious answer is spending time together. Put aside a regular meeting time where you can all discuss roles, give positive examples of how each department impacted the other and make sure you all understand that collectively we work better as a team. In larger companies, get the leaders of each department to meet. Discuss the roles, problems and, more importantly, the solutions.

Create an environment that everyone understands that collectively we will all make this company great. Everyone in the company must feel they are one team and responsible for the company’s success. Each department must perform its role to the best of its ability, but this can only happen if they see the big picture. We are not forwards, backs and midfielders; we are 22 guys working together to make us the best possible team we could be. Drive that “one team” environment and see how quickly your company improves.

Paul Roos is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company.

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