There is a bunch of stuff that happens to get results, stuff we don’t necessarily see and in our narcissistic outlook we don’t even consider. Take our recent flood situation here in my home town of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. Our river swelled over 12 feet in less than seven days. Our city actioned their plans and resources four days prior to when we would have seen the water flowing over our streets and into our homes.
Not only did they work around the clock, but so did the people who support them. If you are wondering what I mean by that, imagine one family who has both parents working 18+ hours a day because of their level of responsibility to our city and also have two young children. What that looks like in their reality is neighbours, family and friends come and stay, cook, clean and mow lawns. If you see the water contained and our city successful, it is not the heroic effort of any one person. It is, in fact, the impressive effort of a high performance team who has been trained and coached and who has planned for emergencies just like this, just like a twelve foot wall of water coming at us hard and fast.
I love high performance teams, they are fascinating and I believe achievable for all of us. The City is a good example of that because they took the lessons of our 2011 flood situation and used it to make us better. They improved our dike system, they fine-tuned their response plans, their infrastructure and their communications. They went through evacuation and other simulations to enact situations and issues that they could potentially face, so that when they faced them, they were ready.
I do not think anyone could have predicted the 170 plus millimetres of rain. But predicting it didn’t matter, our team was ready. They were ready because they knew what to do, how to do and better yet, how to do it well. I assume if we asked they would have liked a bit more time, but wouldn’t we all like more time – all the time. It just doesn’t seem to work like that.
There are defining features of a high performance team. They are:
• Group of people with specific roles and complementary talents and skills
• Aligned with and committed to a common purpose
• Consistently show high levels of collaboration and innovation that produce superior results
• Tight-knit, focused on their goal
• Ability to interchange rolls; highly skilled
The City of Brandon exemplified each one of these characteristics. From the people working behind the scenes ensuring evacuation plans were in place, and information to the public was accurate and timely to the contractors working through the night to close in the dike at key locations. And to the many volunteers who dropped off evacuation pamphlets to those in areas of risk, to others who gladly made meals, minded children and mowed lawns so our municipal servants could be where we needed them to be, in the middle of controlled chaos.
If you are a leader, and remember I believe we are all leaders, of your families, peer groups and businesses. Having a high performance team is not beyond you, but you must take the time to build the common purpose, as well as assign, articulate and educate them on their roles. You must be reviewing and constantly evolving your processes, you must create and solidify relationships that are based on trust. You must share the plan, their piece of the plan and you must help them see their own abilities in how to accomplish the unknown and potentially the untested.
High performance teams don’t quit, they adjust. What is your team doing that maybe out of sync with your goal? What are their roles and are they clear? Would you consider them tight knit, focused? Do they collaborate and innovate, do they want to be better?
Bravo to the City of Brandon – the entire City; the employees, the volunteers, the families, the friends, the citizens. Your willingness to do the work in advance has kept us safe. Your efforts are impactful, impressive and appreciated.