This article is as published in the July 2011 newsletter of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council.
Building strong and effective teams is the focus of every successful sports coach. John Wooden once stated that the foundation of a successful team is based on five fundamental factors: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation, and enthusiasm.
Building a strong and collaborative Supply Chain Management team requires the same fundamental aspects to increase engagement and morale, which in turn will result in achievement of team objectives and customer satisfaction.
More specifically, a successful Supply Chain team is based on five key aspects:
1. Embrace diversity.
As a leader, and as a team member, it is important to understand the diversity that exists within the team. Diversity will lead to differing views and solutions, which will ensure more effective and successful outcomes.
In hockey, those who make the assist are recognized as being just as important to the goal as those who make the winning shot. Without someone to provide an assist, the majority of goals would never be.
2. Stable foundation.
A solid foundation is one which has been clearly defined and has solid construction, supporting both departmental and organizational goals. Everyone on the team must understand the importance of this foundation, and how their success, and the success of the team is based on building from this foundation.
A stable home is built on a solid foundation. Once the contractor has poured the foundation, it cannot be moved or shifted. Understanding and solidifying the foundation of a team will result in stability and a clear understanding of the fundamental ingredients upon which to build success.
3. Communication at all levels.
Individuals in the most collaborative teams understand what the team’s goals and objectives are, and more specifically they understand their role in contributing to achieving those goals. Spending the time to communicate the importance each team member has in achieving team goals will ensure a common understanding and a sense of purpose.
In the NHL, every team strives to win the Stanley cup. This goal is clear to the team owners, the coach, the players, and the fans. Everyone understands how they can contribute to achieving this goal, whether they are on the team, supporting the team, or cheering from the stands.
4. Recognize and reward.
Performing tasks can be repetitive and, in many instances, unrewarding. Often the steps taken by team members to achieve success go unnoticed and unrewarded. An effective team consists of leaders and members who understand what their teammates are doing and how they can support them in the role. Successes are celebrated as a team, and individual accomplishments are recognized and rewarded. Recognition leads to appreciation, which in turn leads to a sense of accomplishment and worth.
Several years ago I attended a motorcycle racing school to improve my riding skills. At the end of the day there were several awards handed out, including “Top Rider” and “Most Improved Rider.” The latter did not discriminate on experience level, but simply recognized those with the greatest level of accomplishments throughout the day, encouraging everyone to try their best.
5. Where did the cheese go?
Successful organizations and their customers are dynamic, meaning they will never remain constant. Being flexible to adapt to organizational change is a team skill which can be built through carefully planned and implemented changes internally.
In many of the dynamic organizations I have worked with, change is constant. When leading teams within these organizations, I have focused on filtering changes, to ensure that those which impacted the team were supportive of the team objectives, built on the foundation of the team, and had as little impact as possible on productivity or morale. Team members recognized and appreciated this, resulting in a willingness and engagement to accept those changes which were initiated.
Similar to a ship, collaboration teams have a solid structure and are not easily swayed. In a diverse and stressful environment such as that offered in Supply Chain management, efforts to share experience, listen to others, and provide candid but supportive feedback will ensure a continual strive towards the development of a collaborative team.
© Shawn Casemore 2011. All rights reserved.