Is a Focus on Getting Things Done Actually Slowing Your Team Down?
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6 Ways to Optimize Performance Through Openness & Accountability

By: Ethan Schutz

In a results-oriented organization, meeting project benchmarks and delivery deadlines is always a top priority. Leaders and managers invest tremendous amounts of time, energy and resources to the question of productivity. Identifying and communicating common goals and emphasizing individual accountability are tried and true techniques – yet the lasting improved team performance that’s needed can still be elusive.

This will force the leader who is at least minimally invested in securing a positive outcome into the role of questioner. The emphasis on productivity could be viewed as suspect: although it seems counterintuitive, could a focus on getting things done actually slow a team down?

Understanding the Relationship Between Compatibility and Productivity

Will Schutz, Ph.D., founder of The Human Element, investigated this question thoroughly and found that a common goal, in and of itself, was not a sufficiently powerful motivating factor. Being bossed around by an authoritarian leader didn’t have a positive impact on productivity either.

Acceptable productivity only happened when a motivated team was also highly compatible – they communicated and worked well together. Absent compatibility, productivity tanked. Schutz identified team compatibility as a factor that has a direct, positive impact on productivity.

The Components of Compatibility

Compatibility can be defined as ‘the ability to work well together’. For more meaningful insights, we need to break down the essential components of compatibility. Through decades of working with this material, Schutz found that compatibility is primarily based on people being flexible, not rigid. When a member holds rigidly to his or her position, teams either must do what the rigid person wants or they get stuck. By identifying rigidity and working to eliminate defensive reactions based on fear, leaders can foster flexibility, and thereby compatibility, within their teams.

Assessing Compatibility in the Workplace

Many leaders have some level of awareness of how well their team does or doesn’t function as a unit. However, many leaders are surprised at how significantly interpersonal conflicts can impact a team’s overall productivity. There is a wide-spread tendency to shy away from devoting time to worker relationships and communication styles, viewing such work as a distraction from what has to get done, but it turns out that teams who do invest in assessing the compatibility dynamics of their team see meaningful, lasting improvements in overall productivity.

Prior to remedying a problem, a leader must first understand it. A key aspect of The Human Element training prepares leaders with the diagnostic methodology that identifies obstacles to compatibility and necessary steps in moving the team toward a more open, collaborative approach that generates results. Learn more about The Human Element program and to find a session convenient to your location here.