This article first appeared in the TODAY Newspaper on 22 April 2013.
Productivity has conventionally been viewed from the perspective of individual contribution. In other words, organisations hire the best candidates in terms of skills, qualifications and experience, in the hope of maximising individual worker productivity. However with the shrinking pool of foreign workers and the state of the global economy, hiring the best people becomes a daunting challenge for many companies and organisations, particularly for the local SMEs.
It is a fact that people are the most important asset of any organisation; and for any organisation to remain competitive in this fast-changing business landscape, it is imperative for them to ensure they continue to increase productivity. However, should organisations continue to focus solely on enhancing individual worker productivity? Or should organisations shift their focus to increasing productivity from a team perspective?
Having the right team in place affords much greater productivity gains because there is only so much an individual worker can do. No matter how talented, skilled, qualified or experienced the individual worker may be, there is a physical limit to what that individual can accomplish.
It is therefore timely that we ask ourselves if productivity gains should be viewed from a team perspective instead of from an individual worker perspective.
Teams are the foundation of every organisation. In today’s business landscape, it is almost impossible for any organisation to function without teams as most organisational goals and objectives would be too big for any one individual to achieve. In other words, Teams involve more people and therefore affords more resources, ideas and energy than any individual possesses. In essence, having the right team in place divides the effort and multiplies the effects.
High Performance Teams
High performance teams are not the typical teams you find in most organisations. These teams vastly outperform other teams in terms of productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. The team members are highly committed to one another and to the team, including having very high levels of trust for one another. In the process, they develop highly complementary and interchangeable skills and knowledge in a way that team members compensate for one another’s shortcomings and skills gaps.
However all this is only possible if you have the right people on the team.
Hiring the Right People for Your Team
Back in 2005, the company I worked for made a major business acquisition, instantly doubling the size of the company. I was charged with forming a team within the Asia Pacific region to provide support to the businesses in terms of the transition of IT systems and processes. I was given very ambitious targets but with very limited budgets and headcount.
It became very clear to me very early on that I needed people who had the right attitudes and aptitudes, as well as great personalities. These traits would enable each member of the team to take on new challenges, work well, communicate and respect one another. Every member of the team needed to be highly self-motivated and possess a high level of integrity.
I wanted to form a team that was highly cohesive and cooperative; a team that was able to move together as one single unit. We were to be able to take on any challenges that was thrown at us. We also had to be highly flexible, where the members could take over one another’s role when required.
From the start, I needed the team to be a “lean and mean fighting machine??? – one that could move, learn and adapt fast. So I began to think about the type of people I wanted on my team, in terms of personalities and attitudes. This eventually led me to develop the CAAP™ High-Performance Model. Each member of the team was selected for their specific character traits. These traits include Culture (cultural fit), Attitude, Aptitude and Personality.
Once I had the right people on board, I managed the team with strong team dynamics. This included building high levels of trust, fostering dialogues, engendering understanding, and maximising collaboration between each member of the team.
The team went on to achieve more than 90% of all targets and objectives that were given to us consistently every year, for eight consecutive years. In addition, we suffered zero attrition for the entire eight years the team worked together.
A Change in Hiring Mindset
Employers should shift their mindset from hiring individual best performers to hiring individuals who can be part of a high performance team. It is my belief that in order for employers to increase productivity, they need to look beyond the individual worker or contributor. High performance teams, are capable of achieving productivity gains way beyond any one individual worker can. As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts???. This is certainly very true for high performance teams.
Finding talents based on these traits are not as difficult as some might think. In fact, finding people who meet exacting standards and requirements of skills, qualifications and experience will become increasingly more difficult with a shrinking pool of talent.
Perhaps it’s time to widen our view of what talent really means.