Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Why Teams Fail?


In my experience there is not one single cause for why teams fail. Generally, teams fail for one simple reason – they do not start as teams. They start as someone’s idea to form a team, but they never build the commitment, skills, and consensus that is necessary for teams to be victorious. There is no single purpose for the team, no commitment that they must succeed. 

Secondly, and equally important, teams fail because whoever forms the teams puts them together to do whatever they are commissioned to do without ever giving them the necessary training and tools they need up front. It would be like a group of athletes being assembled and told their goal is to win a football game. No training, no understanding of why, or what a football game is, and no agreement on what each one will do to contribute to winning the game. If they win, it probably has more to do with individuals and less with team, and a good deal of luck plays a part in it.

Managers and team leaders are often uncertain of their role and the proper approach to be taken in managing teams. These are common mistakes I see:

Trying to build a team as a traditional supervisor would do it.

Not developing commitment to the team’s mission.

Dealing with team members solely as individuals.

Not developing and living by the team norms.

Pushing the team to make decisions too quickly.

Not supporting the team.

Trying to prevent the team from surfacing and resolving conflict.

Lack of clearly stated mission, goals, and team objectives.

Absence of a challenging but fair set of measures directly linked to the team’s goals and objectives.

Management must nurture reams through their life cycles. Ensure that your teams have a charter with a clear statement of the opportunity; a methodical process to follow; a measurement system for achievement; resources, constraints, and conditions that will allow for recognition and reward; and a planned disbandment when the team reaches and exceeds its goals.

Behind every successful cross-functional team is an ongoing training effort. It is absolutely necessary for teams to learn and practice the tools in order to have the skills needed to generate ideas and problem-solve, and also deal with conflict and other team dynamics that involve interpersonal and interfunctional relationships.

I strongly believe that every team should be rewarded regardless of the final bottom line result. Recognition and reward systems must be designed to be compatible with the culture and personality of the organization. It is also important to have teams involved in the design of said process from the beginning. The key concern (obviously) is that there must be sufficient reason for the recognition and reward, otherwise the reward system will lose its significance. Recognition and rewards must be part of an overall business plan with budget allocations assigned and honored. The process must move swiftly through the organization since a recognition and reward loses merit if not given immediately.

One way to value and reward your teams is to help them learn continuously. For teams to succeed, organizations need to be learning organizations in which teams and individuals can continuously improve and/or develop new skills. As individuals learn more companies should reward them more. The way you are rewarding teams for performance and learning.


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