Teamwork is becoming an increasingly important concept in the business world, as many organizations move away from traditional hierarchical structures to more cross-departmental team-centered workplace designs.
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However, it appears that not all teams are created equal: some experience significant organizational and performance issues. Precisely this issue is the focus of a recently published book by Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl, who examine several teams’ transformation process with the goal of offering practical recommendations to business leaders and organizations.
The book’s title is Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams, and it was published in August 2012 by a subdivision of the Wiley & Sons publishing house. It was written by two consulting specialists Joe Frontiera and Daniel Leidl whose primary focus lies on group performance and achievement (Frontiera and Leidl viii).
Both being sports enthusiasts, they have grown particularly interested in how the “underdog” sports teams develop to achieve great heights – the process that the authors labeled as “turnaround.” Since the book is inspired by sports, a great deal of it is dedicated to the case studies of NFL, NBA, and NCAA teams.
However, the authors have also examined the stories of government agencies, businesses, and even Broadway crews. Through a series of interviews with the management of these teams, Frontiera and Leidl aim to identify the steps necessary for a team to complete a turnaround. According to the authors, it takes six specific stages for a team to achieve success.
The first step of the turnaround process – Leading Past Losing – is about, as in many other problem-solving approaches, the analysis of the current state of affairs with the goal of identifying the team’s flaws and performance drawbacks. The management needs not only to conduct an honest evaluation but to communicate their findings to the group (Frontiera and Leidl 1). During the second stage, entitled Committing to Growth, the group shifts its focus from the past to the future.
This step is dedicated to crafting a powerful vision for the team, as well as supplementing it with a set of achievable goals and values (Frontiera and Leidl 29). Once the team identifies past mistakes and sets a clear vision for the future, it is time for it to start implementing the plan into reality. Thus, the third Changing Behaviors stage is about identifying the best practices, designing new behaviors based on them, and slowly integrating them into the team’s activities and operations (Frontiera and Leidl 59).
Clearly, as the team adopts new behaviors, it may meet significant challenges along the way, which is the focus of the fourth chapter titled Embracing Adversity. Rather than getting blocked by these obstacles, successful teams view them as an opportunity to become more resilient and positive (Frontiera and Leidl 85). If the group manages to overcome this stage, it will be rewarded with success at the fifth stage of the process.
The chapter Achieving Success provides recommendations for the teams on how to deal with accomplishments – instead of seeing them as an end, they should look at them as new beginnings (Frontiera and Leidl 107).
Importantly, the sixth chapter of the book called Nurturing a Culture of Excellence emphasizes the importance of sustaining the achieved success: the authors talk about the significance of continuous learning and innovation, as well as maintenance of the group culture (Frontiera and Leidl 135). Finally, the last chapter contains a practical workbook consisting of exercises for each turnaround stage to help both team leaders and members successfully go through each phase (Frontiera and Leidl 165).
Frontiera, Joe, and Daniel Leidl. Team Turnarounds: A Playbook for Transforming Underperforming Teams. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.