It is not unusual for teams to be brought together with no more thought than a general precept that, “we need a team to do this.” This results in teams who are ambiguous in their objective with no clear purpose or goal. These teams have been provided little training and guidance for effectively dealing with differences. This includes reminding the team that differences are inevitable when passionate people work together. Even more so, conflict which is vital to teams in order to avoid the propensity for group-think is quickly eliminated. 60% of teams fail. This failure has more to do about the leadership than team members. To avoid dysfunctions of the team it’s important that teams view friction and disagreement as a healthy stage of team development instead of something to avoid.
John Baldoni offered a few suggestions on what leaders can do when a team fails.
The lesson for managers is that when a team you lead falls to achieve a goal, the time for you to exert your presence is now, not later. You may be feeling awful, even worse than your employees, but you need to spend time with your team. Your own career may even be on the line and that is all the more reason to delve into details with your team. Here are some suggestions.
Affirm their contributions. When good employees put themselves out to achieve a milestone they have a personal stake in the outcome. If the team falls short, then they feel personally dejected. The leader who spends time with individual employees is one who can buck up the entire team.
Pick apart the mistakes. Focus first on process. Mistakes were made. Figure what went wrong. Then assign responsibility. But do it with a spirit of investigation, not finger pointing. When people are down there is a tendency to point fingers. That will do little to diagnose the problems.
Discuss what to do next.
Not everything likely went wrong. It is important to diagnose the positives and decide how they can be repeated. There may be a feeling that you have to begin from scratch and do it all over again. That is not always the case. And if it is so, you are still ahead of where you were earlier because you have the experience of what works and what does not.
With the vast majority of teams succeeding why do organizations settle for such a low return on investment. Rather than innovative rethinking or former solutions diverse opinions squash the drive to fight for one’s ideas. Teams are created so everyone will get along creating “passive-aggressiveness, where team members remain silent when together, but then dissent later in private.”
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About Jim Woods