The authors of ‘Team turnarounds’ – Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner, Joe Fronteira and Daniel Leidl – provide a succinct, thought-provoking and clear description of their proposed six stage developmental process, which they suggest all underperforming teams should go through in order to improve and succeed.
While the cynical reader may feel that the introduction refers to the ‘stages’ in a somewhat idealistic manner, the information in the chapters themselves is comprehensive in guiding the reader through the subject matter in a systematic fashion.
Though examples are largely taken from key US (and perhaps over-hyped) sports organisations, it is easy to apply the authors’ general principles to more everyday organisations across different sectors or industries.
As an HR business partner working with a range of customers and organisations, I immediately related to stage one, which described how a culture of losing can become the norm.
The book points out that, if this is the case, the leader concerned must conduct a full and frank investigation of the situation. While investigating problems is far from a revolutionary idea, the examples provided of those who have led high-achieving teams brings the concept to life.
Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that, although the proposition is logical, in some instances, it is the leaders themselves that are the cause of team underperformance, which implies that a ‘team turnaround’ would need to be led by a third party.
Cohesive, focused, high-performing teams
Stage two, meanwhile, focuses on highlighting the importance of defining the future by introducing a vision and action plan in order to help the team move forward.
The book again provides valuable and practical advice for leaders to follow – as long as they understand that there will inevitably be employees who, regardless of the vision and growth strategy, refuse to accept change within the workplace. As a result, it would have been useful to provide examples of how to tackle this particular obstacle.
The authors continue to guide the reader through stages three to six, which pursue the topic in logical order: Changing Behaviours, Embracing Diversity, Achieving Success and Nurturing a Culture of Excellence.
Taken together, they make it clear how aspiring influential leaders can motivate underperforming teams to become cohesive, focused, high-performing units.
Examples other than sports organisations, which include Domino’s Pizza
and a US school environment, are also used for illustration purposes. This demonstrates that the authors are able to apply their principles to different types of organisation, which, in turn, instills a sense of confidence among readers from non-sports backgrounds.
Finally, the book concludes with a ‘workbook’, which is an excellent tool for managers to work through in order to apply the key learnings. This resource could be used both by individuals and to support the development of a wider leadership and management team.
The book is a simple yet powerful read, providing a sound combination of theoretical and practical guidance. It makes an impact from the outset, offering succinct, thought provoking and clear descriptions as well as real-life examples to make the authors’ point.
The work successfully draws parallels between the field of sport and the day-to-day world of business and effectively guides the reader through the theory of team development. The authors have ensured that their book is an easy and enjoyable read – it is a must-buy for the new team manager or HR consultant.
- This book was reviewed for us by Debbie Wright, HR business partner for the schools HR advisory team at the City of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council.
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