From the New York best-selling author of My Share of the Task and Leaders, General Stanley McChrystal composes a groundbreaking guideline to help leaders create unified and adaptable teams able to compete in an ever-changing corporate world, in his meaty but compact book Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World.
McChrystal discusses what has been considered neoteric, pioneering ideas that are in complete contrast to the orthodox hierarchy of a corporate team. We want to unpack these concepts and equip you with the knowledge you need to apply them within your workforce.
Eliminate Typical Hierarchy in the Workplace
In order to get the best performance out of your team, businesses need to adapt and restructure as their objectives and goals shift and broaden. McChrystal challenges companies to consider abandoning their familiar reliance on an efficient team to prioritise creating an agile team first. This is how companies can gain a competitive edge in an unpredictable world.
But what does this look like practically? McChrystal suggests establishing multiple teams across your organisation, in order to foster a more manageable and less chaotic workforce that acts as a strong foundation for effective operation.
Let’s break down how you can achieve this within your business:
Equip your employees with knowledge
It is essential for employees to have the necessary information before they take action. Relying on teams to problem solve without in-depth, industry knowledge can be detrimental to your company, as decisions would be made on a whim without anything substantial to back them up.
This is why regular training is essential – not only to ensure competency throughout the organisation, but also to ensure employees have an accurate understanding of their profession. Knowledge is just one component in building a team that has the capacity to function on its own – it is the bridge between your employees and the opportunity for strategy and new perspectives.
Adopt shared consciousness
These days, companies can’t afford to expect executives to do all the strategising and employees to simply carry out the tasks. Because of the complexities within an organisation, employees on all levels need to understand the company as a whole – this creates vision and purpose. As visualised in the graph below (sourced from ReadinGraphics), employees who are connected in a way where organisational elements are linked both up and down the command chain, as well as across units and divisions in your company, will allow your staff to quickly and effectively problem-solve. This is how you change a chain of command into a team:
Communication is key to creating a shared purpose. Placing employees in small teams promotes trust, where individuals feel comfortable brainstorming and sharing their unique ideas.
However, if these teams operate on their own and work back to a single command point, it will lead to missed opportunities, as details will be missed and context not fully grasped. The relationship between teams should then resemble the relationship between individuals within a team, enforcing regular updates and collaboration and ensuring everyone and everything is functioning cohesively. This is what we call a “team of teams”, as seen below (sourced from ReadinGraphics):
Empower your teams to execute
Once you are confident in your employees’ knowledge of your company and you’ve established trust between employees and leadership, you then need to equip your staff with the insights and skills they need to apply problem-solving. Training in this sector is essential in order for leaders to feel confident in their employees’ ability, whereafter approvals can become a matter of quick routine.
When your teams have the capacity, competency, and authority to implement solutions, executives will have the freedom to step back from day-to-day tasks, and can rather focus their attention on the ultimate growth of their business.
According to McChrystal, effective leaders enable instead of direct. This calls for them to take a “hands-off” approach to their executive position that allows for an environment where staff are responsible for day-to-day decisions and conceptualising. The goal is to create a business that runs itself.
The author of Team of Teams also brings attention to the difference between an ‘efficient’ organisation and an ‘effective’ organisation. Your employees may be efficient, but if they don’t have the capacity to adapt to your company’s needs, they cannot be effective in their jobs.
So, how do you get your workforce to the level of competitiveness that you need them to be at? The practical solution is to provide them with regular and high-quality training and skills development. A ‘team of teams’ doesn’t form itself – it needs someone to step in and bring the vision into fruition.
Interested in how the ‘team of teams’ concept can build your business? Contact us today for a free audit and we’ll show you how!