Performance issues in teams are rooted in one or more of three distinct areas.The first is the command instruction of the team.The second, the teams shared experience.And thirdly, the area most often neglected, is shared situational awareness.High tem performance demands unity of cohesion and effort. And all three of these team factors need to be considered.In each area, there are common key issues. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the symptoms, just an overview of the top and most frequently uncovered issues.A lack of clear direction, which can be a lack of clarity and, or lack of direction. Frequently, there are team leadership roles missing within the team.The team themselves may function reasonably well, but without leadership, they falter under pressure. Just watch any football game when the captain is injured or sent off.Many teams work in silos, individuals or small groups working independently from the others. Sharing little information, knowledge or expertise. This situation is often exacerbated by unhealthy competition between team members or sub groups. The third, and often neglected factor of team cohesiveness is, shared situational awareness.Team members may cooperate, but they do not collaborate. Essentially, team members can be nice enough to each other and say that they agree, but their actions defy their words.Most often, the team has not learned how to communicate internally. Individuals do not share their context, or inform other members of changes that are pertinent.Many teams have something of a blame culture. This is when individuals spend as much or even, more time, covering their own backsides, and when anything goes wrong, it is always someone else who is to blame.
To fix these performance issues, requires brining these three factors together. Establishing clear direction for the team. That is, establish goals, objectives and direction, which includes the strategy and tactics. And, communicating this to all the team and all stake holders, in a way that is compelling, motivational and even, inspiring.Shared experience is ensuring that all team members have the requisite knowledge and skills. Most often, we find that it is the engaging communication skills, empowering and influencing skills that demand the first work.Thirdly, we need to develop collaboration within the team. Collaboration is much more than cooperation. Collaboration is more aggressive and demanding of performance.
SSS or Shared Situational Awareness is the key to a unified and cohesive team.We can talk all day about preferred team roles, the style of leadership, the team spirit. And all of this is good stuff. But, when it comes down to the one, single, differentiating factor, the one thing that separates the great teams, from the also rans. It is this. Shared Situational Awareness.Mica Endsley describes SSA simply as, knowing what is going on around you.Simple, yes in concept. But there is a lot to consider.I am sure that you can drive a car?Imagine, then, driving your car. How many different things are you aware of?Ten, 15, 20?If you are like some drivers, possibly only 2 or 3 things. But, joking aside, there are hundreds of pieces of information that you are processing as you drive. The big items, such as your speed, other vehicles, the road, which way the road is going, the weather, the light, the car to you left, right, behind, in front. The lorry on the other side. Your kids in the back asking, are we there yet? Then theres accelerator, steering, gears, brakes, heating, air conditioning. Etc etcetc.Now imagine that you are communicating with someone who is driving a car for the first time. Good, that’s easy right? Now imagine that you are coaching this person to drive, you are not in the car with them. You are speaking by telephone. You don’t know the city this person is in very well. You don’t actually know exactly where they are. You have never driven that car model before.A lot more difficult right?That’s what shared situational awareness is all about. Knowing enough about what is going on around you, and what is going on around the person you are communicating with.By the way. Please do not try this experiment to teach your colleagues how to drive.
The formal definition of Situational Awareness, is,A pilot’s continuous perception of self and aircraft in relation to the dynamic environment of flight, threats, and mission, and the ability to forecast, then execute tasks based on that perception