Our MBA Orientation committee debated whether was this too much pressure. The second week on campus, teams of first year MBA students would have 48 hours to research and make recommendations on a real business challenge for a large, high-profile company and package and communicate their recommendation to a high-profile audience.
Clearly, it’s more than a “game” when potential employers and university leadership are involved. I served as executive communications consultant, equipping them on presentation skills and packaging a compelling story, and then visited their case rooms up until the late night pancake “breakfast” critiquing their rehearsal and helping them fine-tune.
Every team was given the same challenge, information and resources. What was fascinating was how the teams varied in their approach to team dynamics and interaction. I got an insider’s view to most of the teams and watched the teams and their presentations transform (a few didn’t think they needed any help, but that’s another story.)
How to Move a Team from Forming to High Performing in < 48 Hours
I spoke with several of the teams that made it to the final round–mostly curious about how the most successful teams accomplished so much so quickly.
You guessed it–they had a balanced focus on results AND relationships, confidence AND humility. #winningwell
1. Quickly Identify Each Team Member’s Strengths (and Challenges)
The strongest teams didn’t waste time jockeying for position or covering up weaknesses. They weren’t afraid to say what they were good at, “Oh, when I worked for the World Bank, I used to work on this kind of stuff all the time, let me lead the analysis.” Or where they weren’t, “I don’t have much of a finance background, that’s why I’m here to round it out, BUT I’m GREAT at PowerPoint.”
2. Work Extremely Hard at Communication
Every team had International students studying in their non-native tongue. This often meant slowing down to repeat or find different words to explain a complex idea. The teams that won well understood the deep value their teammates were bringing to the table and took extra time to ensure they were heard and understood.
3. Invest in the Long View, Even in Short-Term Projects
Sure they all wanted to win the 48-hour challenge, but they also knew that the relationships they were building would last at least two years as they worked together throughout the program, and of course could become a powerful network down the road. They kept the big picture in mind as they managed their interactions.
4. Establish Formal Norms
Before they began they wrote down the big rules for team functioning AND they called each other on it when someone was out of bounds. This happened most during times of stress, “We agreed we do a little one-minute dance party when the stress got to much.”
5. Offer (and Receive) Candid Feedback
There was no time to sugarcoat. They cut through the B.S. and feedback was offered and received with the understanding that they all had the same big goal. When their second year coach, or someone gave them ideas to improve, they quickly said “Thank you,” took the advice, and made their presentation tighter.
Here’s a quick interview with one of my favorite winning well teams.
To learn more about these leaders you can click on their LinkedIn profiles.
Thanks to my nephew, Jared Herr for producing this video.
Need help accelerating your team’s development, or communicating more effectively? Please give me a call 443/750-149.