Team Work

What Are Some Team Problems?

Lencioni tells it like it is when he explains that many teams lack the kind of engagement they need. In particular, they can’t effectively argue about issues and decisions that are critical to success. “If team members are never pushing one another outside their emotional comfort zones, then it is extremely likely that they are not making the best decisions for the organization” he says.

In my experience, members succumb to apathy or disengagement when they don’t feel safe enough to speak up.

SOLUTION:  Learn the skills to have a Crucial Conversation! This two day course teaches skills to make it safe for any kind of conversations even when it’s emotional, high-risk and with opposing points of view.

Some other dysfunctional team problems include:

  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of commitment
  • Avoidance of accountability
  • inattention to results

Also team members are often unclear about their role and responsibilities and pressures to perform drive people toward safe solutions that are justifiable (CYA) rather than innovative. Sound familiar?

SOLUTION: Research shows teams need to trust members, have a sense of group identity and a sense of group efficacy. First, identify common goals and purpose. Have teams identify their core purpose, values, business definition, strategy, goals and roles and responsibilities. Without this foundation, its hard to achieve cohesiveness. From there, teams need to be intentional: what are the goals bothqualitative and quantitative?


Trust You have to have a foundation of trust and this is hard in this ego-driven, self-preservation world! I like how Patrick defines it: “When it comes to teams, trust is all about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another learn to be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears.” Yet this is the foundation for forgiveness and acceptance. Authenticity depends on members’ willingness to admit weaknesses and mistakes. They have to be able to say “I messed up” or “I’m sorry” or “I need some help here.”

SOLUTION: Share your DISC assessment with the team! Explain how you deal with things and what turns you off. We’re all different; share who you are fully! Show up!

Engagement Our engagement level is ever changing from one end of apathy, disengagement and maybe even sabotage to the other extreme of unbridled enthusiasm and passion. And once again, being able to speak up and be heard (maybe even confront someone) is key. Active debate allows the team to discuss what matters most. Again, trust needs to be there.

SOLUTION: Mine for conflict! Yes, encourage it! Use your Crucial Conversation skills to say it in a way that prevents defensiveness! After a member shares, remember–no consequences for being honest! Everyone is watching, you know. If you blow it here as a leader, NO ONE will speak up and you’re doomed.

Accountability This is a big one with me.You should be able to hold each other accountable and even offer suggestions to help others win! Peer-to-peer accountability talks are essential to maintain focus and monitor progress. Don’t be afraid to comment: “I notice ____ hasn’t been finished. What do you need to get it done?” or “What resources we missing here?” Effective team members are quick to spot problems and are willing to speak up without assigning blame. Remember, you don’t have all the information possibly. Seek solutions together.

SOLUTION: Ask Soft Solutions for their Totally Responsible Person (TRP) program or Crucial Accountability course! As a manager or employee, these are essential skills for your life and as a member of a team.

Metrics Metrics are important to assess achievements. This doesn’t have to be fancy! Visual aids are good! Also positive feedback or employee recognition are good too as they provide renewed motivation, energy and drive! People like to see they have the power to “move the needle”.

SOLUTION: Even a whiteboard with your metrics works. Some companies use a stoplight approach where green=good, yellow=caution and red= we’re off track and missing the mark. What gets measured gets treasured; and what gets treasured gets done! Make sure individuals put aside personal gains & attention or trying to fulfill personal career aspirations and/or boosting their egos. There is no “I” in TEAM!

The Big Takeaway

If you’re still with me now, decide where your team is by asking confidentially each member how well they feel you’re working as a team on a scale from 1 to 10 on the T.E.A.M. outlined above. Then ask where they think you need to be working together as a team.

Research of hundreds of teams in multinational organizations think his/her team operates at a 5.8 level of effectiveness but recognizes the need to be a 8.7.

Discuss and explore performance gaps and choose one behavioral change that everyone can agree to prioritize. Make team-building a regular part of your meetings!


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