Four ways to avoid team troubles through failure by management
While the benefits of teams are many and varied, it’s important to realise that teams carry a whole range of problems that are specific to them and the nature of team work. Many of these problems can lead to team failure if left unresolved. Some of these problems are caused by management mistakes, and the wonderful thing about this is that these mistakes are completely within your power to resolve!
Let’s look at the top four ways to avoid ‘team troubles’ created by failure of management.
1. Allow freedom and give responsibility
Creating teams and not giving them the freedom and authority to accomplish their tasks is akin to giving your child a brand-spanking new bicycle and telling them they can only ride it in their bedroom.
For team members, the result will be frustration, disappointment and ultimately a loss of faith in their concept of team-work. If you want your team to operate in an effective and creative way together, trust in their abilities and give them the authority and autonomy to do the job themselves.
2. Focus on the team, not individual members
If your management style tends to be oriented toward individuals rather than teams, you will encourage competitive, individualistic attitudes rather than cooperative team attitudes.
For example, if you exclusively reward individual achievements rather than team efforts, you are communicating that it is the individual not the team that is important. A radical reorientation of your approach toward team-based action will be needed if your team members are to subsume their individual identities within that of the team.
3. Manage, don’t dictate
The strength of teams lies in the pooling of knowledge, skills and experience that they enable. If you apply a traditionally directive or dictatorial approach to your team, you will stifle its creativity. Instead, act as a facilitator for your team – supporting members in the early stages, coaching them to find the solutions for themselves and gradually slackening the controls as the team becomes more autonomous.
4. Monitor individual contributions
When a team member’s contribution to the collective effort is difficult to identify and evaluate, it can leave people open to ‘social loafing’ or ‘coasting’. This phenomenon challenges the common assumption that synergy is necessarily produced when individuals work together in groups.
To prevent people slipping into social loafing, you need to ensure that each member is fully committed to the work of the team and aware of the importance of his or her contribution. Distributing roles clearly and fairly, combined with a transparent monitoring system will help you do this.
Some useful questions to improve your management of teams are what:
- barriers or issues do I have with giving my team freedom and authority?
- barriers or issues do I have in relation to focusing on the team as opposed to the individual?
- behaviours could I exhibit to effectively lead the team with a facilitator/coaching style?
- can I do to prevent social loafing?
Your ability to effectively respond to these questions will exponentially increase your team’s performance.