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Teaming© – a lesson from rugby

August 4, 2023

Teaming is the ability of an individual to adapt technically and socially to positively contribute to different teams, their unique goals, culture, and behavioural patterns

In preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, our National Team was split into two teams while competing in the Rugby Championship. The Rugby Championship is contested annually by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I was surprised to hear that while the Springboks competed against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on 08/07 some team members were already in New Zealand preparing for the game scheduled for 15/07. This suggests that there exists enough depth in our talent pool to compete with different players at international level. Whether some players eventually played in both games, is not the point. What makes this decision significant is that our team members can adapt to the styles of different players on the fly.

The challenge is not so much finding technical prowess, but rather a combination of technical and soft skills. Top performance in team sports as well as the business/ project environment depends on technical, and behavioral adaptability.

Having enough time to select the right team members, experimenting with different combinations of skills and gradually develop trust and team culture, as roles are clearly defined takes time and is costly. This is slowly becoming a luxury of the past and rings true for the world of sport as well as the world of business. The “ability” of an individual to adapt technically and socially to positively contribute to different teams, their unique goals, culture, and behavioural patterns is referred to as “Teaming”. Teaming epitomizes a new era of business and more specifically in the Project Environment. The ability to execute “teamwork on the fly” will become a critical skill in business. When specialists are gathered in temporary groups because of the intensity of market change and competition, unpredictability of clients’ needs, lack of time to build a team; organizations are forced to bring together employees from different disciplines and divisions, including external specialists and stakeholders, only to disband them when they have achieved the goal and a new opportunity arises.

Project Team Management (PTM) requires individuals with sufficient technical as well as soft skills. The project environment is becoming more and more competitive. The rugby scenario discussed above perfectly mirrors the Engineering environment. Projects are becoming the engines that drive organisational strategy in new directions. There appears to be no single framework or training intervention that prepares individuals to adapt and effectively contribute to multiple projects. Institutions offering training programs have failed their clients by negating the importance of soft skill development as part of the curriculum.
Teaming ultimately involves developing soft skills of an individual in a team environment. EQ-agility is just as important as technical prowess. “Engineers are hired for their technical skills and fired for their behavioral mistakes.”

Self-awareness is the key that unlocks the first step to EQ-agility. Discovering the significance of one’s thinking style (Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument™) sparks self-awareness. This unlocks the value of interdependence as a prerequisite to effective teamwork. Teaming develops a new skill set that requires members to match behaviour at odd times with other members in unpredictable contexts.

Trust is generally regarded as a foundational construct of teamwork. With less time to develop trust in practice, the value of a shared understanding of fellow team member’s thinking styles goes a long way to establish trust as foundational value.

The following definitions for further consideration:

Teaming training© is the experiential development of an individual to acquire critical skills needed to adapt to multiple teams. Teaming Profile© is a graphic presentation of the basic behavioural skill set an individual displays.
Teaming Inventory© is a peer and self-assessment of teaming constructs.
Teaming Assessment© is the application of the Teaming Inventory© and includes peer and self-assessment.
Teaming skills© is the ability to create networks, acquire skills and knowledge quickly, respond to change quickly, positive attitude, opportunistic, creative, improving the system while operating on the system- executing and learning at the same time, fast learner, courage to cross borders.

TBi designed a three-day teaming training program that experientially unlocks constructive team behaviour. A 360° questionnaire (Teaming Inventory©) assesses teaming constructs and provides a clear picture of the participant’s Teaming Profile©.

The leaders’ role shifts from composing and managing teams to inspiring and enabling the principle of teaming.

Teaming should not be confused with Team Building. Team Building applies to intact or stable teams committed to achieving a long-term goal. This implies identifying the right people with the right combination of skills – building trust over time – clearly identified roles responsibilities and membership – no boundaries to cross to get the work done.

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