The toxic elements in your alliance and team

At the moment of writing this column, I am leaving our new house behind for a day. After we bought the house, it turned out to have asbestos in the roof boarding and today this will be removed.

Asbestos, once used widely in building construction, happens to be a toxic product. As such it needs to be removed by law by the year 2024. The law not only demands removal, but also sets the rules on how it has to be done. Only certified companies are allowed to do the job.

Also in your alliances and teams we can face situations where elements, once to be considered good, are not good or in their place anymore. It can be about the tools we use, the processes we follow, the people involved and also the alliance partner we are working with. When that happens, it is at first important to recognize the situation and to take action.

In our case the asbestos was recognized by a contractor, after which an official examination took place. When the confirmation came that it was indeed the toxic product, we planned for the certified company to do the work. All being well, at the end of the day we will receive a certificate that our house is asbestos free.

It is a simple and straightforward process around a toxic element in buildings. In your business it might be less obvious to recognize the elements that are slowing down alliance or team performance. When they have already turned toxic it is obvious, but preferably you don’t want to let it come to that point. When the alliance or team performance is hampering, or worse even, when you can’t get along anymore with an alliance partner or team member, the cost of solving the situation will be high.

Proactively managing and monitoring the health of your alliance and your team can help to prevent toxic situations from happening. With your team members you will have regular team meetings and most likely bilateral meetings. These are the moments that will help you gauge the health of your team. Additionally you will probably measure the performance of your team and your team members on a set of KPI’s. In alliances you should do the same. As an alliance manager you will have regular meetings with your counterpart at the alliance partner. As an executive sponsor you will have your role in the alliance and your contact moments with your counterparts as well. Also in alliances, companies measure the performance of partnerships in a defined set of KPI’s.

Additionally, an alliance health check will help to assess the wider health of the collaboration. An alliance health check is like a 360 degree assessment that can be performed for both individual and team performance. The health check will be performed with a set of respondents from all partners in the alliance. An alliance health check will identify possible frictions in the partnerships. Frictions that might turn into toxic elements if not treated well.

In contrary to the asbestos, most team and alliance elements that have the potential to turn toxic can be identified and solved before they become harmful. However, you need to identify them timely through active management, including health checks. Skipping those now for the sake of time will ask for time and money investments in the future. Time invested now will pay back in the form of happy team members and stakeholders and improved alliance and team results.


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