We use the word team so often that it has almost become a garbage can word. Everything is a team. We have our department team, our sales team, our whole company is called a team, and we have even called the guys who meet every Friday night a team. Because we use the word so frequently, we think we know how to work effectively with teams. Unfortunately we do not.
Teams are complex dynamic systems that face many challenges. In fact 60% fail to reach their potential. Listed below are 8 of the most common reasons teams fail based on our experience and research.
- Lack of clear purpose and goals
Without clear purpose and goals, the team will falter. Not knowing what to accomplish and why it is important is a major reason for lack of performance
- Unsure of what requires a team effort
Not every decision or action requires a team; some are best accomplished by individuals. Team action is required when the result calls for multiple skills and perspectives and for a common goal.
- Lack of accountability
The very definition of a team is one where mutual accountability for outcomes is a given. Effective teams hold themselves and each other accountable for commitments made and results.
- Lack of effective or shared Leadership
Applying leader behaviors that do not meet the developmental level of the team impacts both productivity and morale. Every team needs a leader, but as the team develops leadership needs to be shared. You will never have a high performing team if the leader does not give up control.
- Lack of trust among team members
Teams are trust- based systems. The lack of trust leads to poor communication and withholding of information, which is a barrier to relationships and innovation.
- Inability to deal with conflict.
Not dealing with conflict will cause productivity and morale to come to a standstill or worse. Rather than being seen as differences, it can become a struggle for control. If dealt with correctly can be the source of innovation and deepened relationships.
- Ineffective problem-solving skills
The strength of the team lies in its ability to creatively and effectively deal with challenges. Without this skill set (which thrives on different perspectives), it will not reach high performance.
- Lack of focus on creativity and excellence.
Creativity and excellence cannot be taken for granted but ideally written right into the values and norms of the team. Continual improvement is applauded and honored. Team members should be allowed to take calculated risks. If mistakes occur, they are treated as learning opportunities
Overcoming these challenges is not easy but doable. Teams are a powerful vehicle to produce results and build morale. When managed effectively, they can outperform any group of individuals and do more to unleash creativity and build skills than individuals working alone.