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Is Your Team in Trouble?

Be on the lookout for these signs…

Every team has trouble at some point. When someone tells me their team is always running smoothly with never an issue to be addressed, I immediately ask them how connected they are to their team. At some point your team is going to have an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s simply the nature of teamwork. Whether it occurs because a new member joins the team or because there is just too much to do and not enough people to get it all done, there are going to be struggles.

Does your team show any of the following signs of trouble?

  • Team members are confused about what they should be doing and their priorities.
  • Team meetings are unproductive and a waste of time.
  • Decision making is poor and often takes longer than necessary.
  • Team members hesitate to help each other out to meet deadlines.
  • Quality of work product is poor and/or inconsistent.
  • Team members do not listen to each other.
  • Some team members complain regularly about others; the team is divided.
  • Deadlines are consistently missed.

In order to figure out why your team may not be effective as they should be, or could be, ask yourself these questions:

  • Which trouble signs do you see in your team?
  • What do you think are causing these trouble signs (what are the underlying causes)?
  • Have you:
    • Spent time up front letting the team get to know each other?
    • When new members join, have you effectively introduced that new member into the team?
    • Do you regularly check in with your team to see how things are going or are you too “hands off?”
    • What have you done to resolve issues that have arisen on the team?
    • How effectively have you shared the “leadership” role with your team?

In order to ensure that teams remain effective and efficient and that problems can be resolved quickly, take these best practice steps:

  • Set aside time for a team to spend time together up front getting to know each other and again when a new member joins the team take some time to get everyone introduced.
  • Understand the 5 stages of team development (Part I and Part II); they will help you to better manage and lead your team.
  • Be sure that team meetings are organized and well run – set ground rules, have an agenda and be sure that everyone participates in discussions.
  • Have processes for problem solving and decision making.
  • While team members should be able to resolve their own conflicts, be prepared to step in to resolve conflicts that are affecting the entire team or the success of the project.
  • Share leadership responsibilities with team members.
  • Coach those team members who need more guidance on how to work effectively as a team member.
  • Regularly check in with your team, even when they seem to be working along well.

What about you? How do you spot a team in trouble? What do you do in order to get a team back on track? What are your best practices for managing your team? Please share with others in the Comments field below. Thanks!