“Study performance inside any organization and one finding leaps out at you. It’s one of those revelations that is at once obvious and surprising, the sort of discovery that’s as clear as day, and yet makes you realize that you’ve never seen it written about in the business press,” the Harvard Business Review writes.
“This discovery is range—that is, variation in performance between two teams in the same organization doing precisely the same kind of work. Whether that performance is measured as per-person productivity, quality, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, accidents on the job, or lost workdays—and even if you study highly controlled environments, such as retail or manufacturing, in which each ‘team’ has been carefully constructed to do exactly the same job in exactly the same way—you still find significant range in the performance metrics.”
Some see team success driven by the business model or company culture, but it’s usually the team leader who makes the difference.
“If your organization wants high performance and engagement—or, for that matter, collaboration, innovation, quality, efficiency, and agility—then these things are created in the context of a team and a team leader, or they are not created at all. This variation in team-level data reminds us that the most important decision an organization makes on any subject is not strategy, marketing messaging, or capital allocation. It is who you make team leader. As goes the team leader, so goes everything.”
Key takeaway: “If we are interested in actually building engagement in our organizations, rather than merely measuring it year over year, then we need to redesign our system so that it delivers real-time data to the right audience: team leaders.”
Meanwhile, in an era of “virtual companies” and remote employees, e27 has a good look at how team leaders who happen to be located somewhere else can make a difference.