Friday, January 14, 2011

Four Barriers to Team Success:

The following are four frequent barriers to high performing teams. Make sure these are not affecting your teams.

1. Unclear definition of success.
Teams need direction. Professional sports team have crystal clear direction in the form of the World Series, or Super Bowl, etc. However, business teams often have only a moderate clue of what their ultimate goal is. Often, they form their own assumptions based on opinion and conjecture. If a team is to perform well, they need direction, and they must be clear on what success looks like. And success must be specific and measureable, i.e., reducing waste or errors by x%, or increasing level of service by x%.

2. Unproductive conflict or non-conflict.
The best teams thrive on conflict, and have adapted to make conflict work for them. A lack of conflict suggests that ideas may represent path of least resistance, or lack of creativity and innovation. Lack of conflict may also suggest that the team is in a comfort zone, or worse, apathetic. If the ideas and approaches within a team are never coming under challenge or scrutiny, it could very well be a safe assumption that there a significant lack of contemplation and due diligence in the team’s decision making. Again, conflict needs to be healthy, and team members must focus on the messages in the conflict, and NOT the emotions.

3. Lack of culture.
Challenging the entrenched and outdated approaches usually entails some sort of risk. And it requires commitment. Innovation means challenging the comfort zone of the team, and possibly those outside the team. If the culture of the team and of the organization is not one to support any risk-taking, status quo wins out. The culture must be comfortable with and even committed to changes, and making the appropriate changes that increases likelihood for team success. The culture must also be focused on the common agenda, rather than any individual agendas.

4. Lack of leadership.
Every team needs leadership, and not just from the manager on the org chart. In every successful team, leaders emerge by default. A leader that gains the trust of the other members will lead through their own personal power, and does not need authority to lead successfully. Think of a team captain of a sports team. A team captain is designated by his/her peers after demonstrating a trustworthy commitment to the team and its members. Without leadership, the team flounders like a ship without a captain.

Great teams are not impossible to build. How great is your team?

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