If your team has as much teamwork as a box of crayons without a child to guide them, don’t blame them. Consider what you may be doing to inadvertently sabotage their teamwork.
5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Teamwork
- Insisting On A Team That Doesn’t Make Sense – I’ve seen so much energy and money wasted to improve the team dynamic when the real issue is organizational structure. A cluster of human beings is not a team. No one is bonding if the only common denominator is who they report to. If you can’t identify several common goals (beyond your performance agreement), consider the structure rather than organizing a team karaoke night. The best teams truly need one another to be successful. If you can’t change the structure, think harder about a few collaborative goals or projects that can get the team moving forward together.
- Ignoring The Obvious Dynamic – If everyone on your team is frustrated by one member, stop pretending it’s not an issue (yes, even if she’s an a player). I once worked on a team where one of our peers won a numbers-only based National recognition. Every one of her immediate peers understood the nasty back-stabbing dynamics beneath the surface. Our boss seemed to get it, but she got results, and results helped him. Instead of addressing it, he chose to call each of us individually and remind us of the right thing to do, to call her and congratulate her. The truth is, those calls had already begun. But his call assuming we couldn’t get there with her, reinforced the fact that we all had work to do in these relationships. Pushing us to be cooth was scratching the surface on a bigger issue that needed to be addressed.
- Fuzzy Vision – Teamwork blossoms when the group is inspired by a vision bigger than themselves. If all you’re doing is passing down organizational goals, you’re missing an opportunity to energize your team toward creating local magic. Everyone likes to be part of a winning team. See: Teams Need Vision Too.
- Misusing Your Staff Meetings – If you’re using your staff meetings as an opportunity for serial updates from your team, instead of a high-energy brainstorming of ways to collaborate, you’re wasting time. Trust me, everyone hates your meetings if all they’re really doing is reading out to you with no engagement from others. If you want your meetings to inspire teamwork, save updates for your one-on-ones, and then shorten the team readouts to what’s most relevant for the whole crew. Have updates conclude with statements such as and what this means to the team is or the implications for our team are. It will take a bit more time investment on your part, but the resulting teamwork will be worth it.
- Overusing Competition – Trash talk has its place, but it’s tricky. In many organizations there’s an unspoken stack ranking dynamic that’s already out there. See: 6 Secrets To Building Teams In A Stack-Ranked World. Instead of firing your team up to out do one another, reward the sharing of best practices and collaboration. Be sure that leadership toward the greater good and team behaviors are part of your performance evaluation and recognition strategy.