The R&D team of this Fortune 50 pharma company called us to fine tune their teamwork in order to reduce unnecessary stress, frustration and road blocks. Our work uncovered disruptive communication patterns, which when addressed, yielded a 2500% ROI which included more effective meetings, reduced conflict, and new Ideas generated for improvement.
The R&D team of this Fortune 50 pharma company needed to ensure success. They were rolling out a new generic version of a top selling prescription product. They called us to fine tune their teamwork in order to reduce unnecessary stress, frustration and road-blocks.
Uncovering the true / Real Issues
The team survey and interviews with key stakeholders showed no major problems. The team was committed to success and the desire to maintain a culture that supported success. The 1.5 day team event though, proved most revealing.
The Turning Point
We stopped action when a few loud talkers were monopolizing the team discussions. Suddenly, the quiet people started telling the team how they felt left out and unable to contribute back at work due to the talkers (and these are no shrinking violets – many of them earned MD’s or PhDs). One of the talkers actually taped her own mouth shut because she wanted to be quiet and give space for others to contribute speak. And later, one group tried to take over the work of another group, leading to the awareness that this happens back at work, and leaves people disempowered and unclear of results. In the evening we brought in a Grammy nominated professional songwriter to work with the team and write a team song. We made sure everyone was included. And the result was a song highlighting how the success of the team was built on all the key components of the team. They liked it so much they asked for it to be recorded in studio with real singers.
The bottom line and takeaway for the team was – the talkers need to listen and engage others more, and quiet ones need to speak up. A few weeks after the event, the leader of the team told me how the woman who taped her mouth shut had spent the first 40 minutes of a meeting not saying a word. This was unprecedented! She realized from the event how important it was to let everyone be heard. The net result? A 2500% ROI on the event, with some results including team (re)energized, conflict(s) resolved, improved communication, employees given chance to voice concerns, more effective team meetings, new Ideas generated for improvement, roles and responsibilities clearer and more time for the leader to focus on other things.
The Lesson Learned
Assessments and interviews are critical, yet there is no substitute for working with a team in action – to see them work together shows what is really going on, and gives leverage to make needed improvements.