Team Transformation: How Maria's Team Leveled Up Through Shared Language and Strategy  

September 05, 2023
Coaching Workshops
 Team Transformation: How Maria's Team Leveled Up Through Shared Language and Strategy   

In the wake of a recent reorganization, Maria's team found itself grappling with a unique set of challenges that had the potential to hinder collaboration and innovation. Dispersion across time zones, a recent team reorganization, and the sometimes-randomizing directives of senior leaders had created substantial hurdles for effective communication and shared understanding of goals within the team. The situation was worsened by industry hiring freezes. Unable to hire, the team had to harness and maximize their existing strengths to deliver on team objectives.


This is not an unusual story in today's workforce. The industry at large is feeling the heat as remote and hybrid work setups collide with hiring slowdowns. The once-thriving innovation engine is sputtering as companies grapple with how to keep the creative fire burning without burning out their people.


Maria's team knew her team's ability to flourish hinged on three things:

1) Creating a shared language for teamwork,

2) Establishing operational frameworks, and

3) Fostering stronger personal connections amidst the challenges of remote collaboration.


Creating a shared language for teamwork

In this rapidly evolving culture of work, the importance of a shared language for effective collaboration became evident to Maria.  For her, successful teamwork hinged on more than just well-defined tasks and objectives; it required a shared language for collaboration that would transcend geographical distances, time zones, and diverse personalities. Many organizations jump right to top-level culture and values frameworks, which leaves a crucial middle-layer unaddressed - the layer that deals with day-to-day interactions, understanding of strategy, and shared expectations of what is to be delivered.


Drawing inspiration from her experience in the tech world, the concept of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) is an analogy Marie likes to use for codifying this shared language. Just as APIs serve as intermediaries for seamless communication between software components, a shared language for individual team member work styles and contribution acts as an interface between team members, bridging the gap in understanding and enhancing collaboration. Maria felt that team offsites were falling short of building a true team framework for collaboration.


Team off-sites can fall short of establishing effective collaboration structures due to limited time, superficial interactions, and their temporary nature. The experience teams have in-person, at a point in time event, doesn't translate once everyone returns home to their remote reality.


"It's great to get to know each other better, but there's only so much you get out of hanging out together. You need to be learning about each other while you are building what is shared."  ~Maria, 2023


Beyond just getting to know each other, Maria saw the need for "rules of engagement" and a "shared team-level culture." Maria came to Archer for a facilitated experience that went deeper than the typical surface level work style assessments. They needed something that would help them identify their collaboration framework and then experience it in action.


Forge the team dynamics, build the strategy, execute flawlessly.

The engagement followed a two-stage process. Initially, individual assessments were conducted to deeply understand each team member's communication and operating style. This provided a foundation for the team to develop a shared language and operating framework. In the second stage, the team came together to work on a specific objective, such as defining the team's annual strategy and goals. This collaborative effort solidified the new shared language and way of operating. The team's interactions with Archer & Associates acted as a kickoff, setting the stage for productive discussions. The team then spent time discussing ideas and strategy, which strengthened their bonds. The transformative aspect came to light when the team met with a larger group of peers the following week. The shared language and trust established earlier enabled the team to behave cohesively, effectively interacting with the larger group and facilitating team dynamics. This process demonstrated that shared language and trust formed the foundation for successful team interactions and was crucial for future strategy endeavors. It highlighted that team building is not just about an initial assessment exercise, but in ensuring there is a downstream payoff in having the team function at a higher level thereafter.


"The workshop showcased its true impact by drawing out an invaluable contribution. Through open dialogue and collaboration, what began as a casual lunch conversation between Henry and me evolved into the transformative mantra: 'Clear on outcomes, steady on strategy, and flexible on tactics.' Recognizing his genius clarity-thinking and my vocal approach, we collectively nurtured this concept, turning it into a shared gem that now embodies our team's guiding principles."  ~Maria


The team facilitation engagement yielded significant benefits, including the development of a shared language and strategy. The recognition and utilization of individual strengths, along with balanced team roles, enhanced collective intelligence and problem-solving. The engagement fostered improved team dynamics by allowing thoughtful contributions and moments of silence, and it facilitated open discussions about values like respect, which prevented misalignment. This foundation of shared language and understanding positioned the team to effectively address strategic goals and initiatives, while also reinforcing a cohesive team culture.


What set this experience apart was its integration with the actual content and work process. Unlike previous exercises that often stood alone without direct application, this engagement was strategically designed to align with intense collaborative work sessions. This proximity to the content being worked on significantly enhanced productivity and the meaningfulness of the session. The engagement's value was amplified by its connection to real work, in contrast to traditional approaches focused solely on training or team building. This integration with ongoing strategy development created a holistic experience that allowed participants to fully embody and appreciate its impact.


Archer & Associates stands out through a powerful combination of courage, purpose, connection, and resilience. Their purpose-driven leadership is centered on recognizing the potential within everyone, guiding them toward their highest contribution with empathy and clarity. Understanding the profound impact of connection, they create environments that foster meaningful interactions, bridging gaps and nurturing relationships that inspire growth.

Learn more about how you can schedule your facilitated team engagement before you tackle your next strategic planning meeting.  

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