Teams are at the core of a company’s success.
How many times have you heard a similar statement? Probably thousands of times. And you can’t really disagree; we all know that effective teams are what make or break an organization. Yet team management remains one of the most difficult tasks that companies and leaders face.
So why does team management continue to fail, and what can we do about it? There are many reasons, and even more proposed solutions. Which is why I am going to attempt to break it down to the basics. Let’s get to it.
1. Lack of alignment around a common vision
Basic, yet crucial.
We can argue all day about what the essence of effective team management is – some would say it’s motivation, others engagement, accountability, the list can go on for days. But I am going to claim that one of the main contributors to why team management fails is a lack of alignment around a common vision.
Don’t get me wrong; motivation, empowerment, engagement, accountability, and all of those other factors are incredibly important. What I am saying, though, is that none of them can be achieved without having a common vision.
It just makes sense. Why do you bother motivating, empowering, and promoting accountability, anyway? Isn’t it to achieve that goal and vision that you foresee as a leader?
The great thing about vision, too, is that if you have a compelling one that is well-communicated, it can actually have the power to be a motivator in itself.
So, in conclusion, have a compelling and exciting vision, communicate that vision clearly and effectively, and then make sure everyone is excited and on board!
2. Lack of alignment around working approaches
Great. You have a clear vision that excites your team and pushes them to achieving a clearly defined goal. Now what?
Now, everyone runs off and starting doing their thing… and then chaos ensues.
It’s very important for working approaches to be aligned with the overall vision and your expectations as a manager and leader. If your vision includes an element of innovation, then give them the time and tools to be innovative. If your goals are geared towards team collaboration, then rework your compensation and recognition programs to support that.
More often than not, you’ll find a group of incredibly talented individuals put together… and that’s it. If you don’t provide the right leadership, guidance, environment, and working approaches, they will always remain a “group”, instead of transforming into the super team you were hoping they’d be.
3. No clearly defined responsibility and accountability
You’ll see this piece of advice everywhere, and for very good reason!
The blame game is never fun, especially when you’re on the receiving end of the pointed finger. And, of course, all you can think in that situation is “but it isn’t really (or entirely) my fault!”
It’s very easy to get caught up in the blame game, but wouldn’t we all be happier if there were clearly define responsibilities so people can be held accountable? Team management is a delicate thing, but the best teams hold themselves accountable.
Clearly set and define responsibility from the get-go. Not only will it make everyone’s life a little less stressful, but it will also make your team that much more effective.
4. Absence of measurable benchmarks
Measurable benchmarks are great. We all know that having measurable benchmarks helps with monitoring, accountability, quality assurance, and measuring progress within teams. But what many leader fail to recognize is the motivational power that comes with having measurable benchmarks.
Let’s face it, there are people who are more motivated by short-term goals, and those that are motivated by long-term ones. There’s nothing wrong with either, they each have their positives and negatives. But effective team management can be truly captured when you use best practices as motivational factors.
Take the time to get to know your team and understand what motivates them. Use tools or conduct a motivation assessment if you have to. There are certain investments that are always worth making, and an investment in your team is definitely one of them.
5. Team management without conflict management
Poor conflict management is probably one of the biggest detriments to team effectiveness.
Whether you think conflict management is one of your best or worst skills, there’s always that one situation that leaves you stumped. And it’s normal, mainly because people are different. They behave differently, react differently, and have varying perceptions of the situations.
Conflict management is very delicate. And it’s becoming even more so in today’s work environment. Businesses are opting for smaller teams because of their ability to be more nimble and agile. Smaller teams can also be incredibly effective because they make it easier to identify everyone’s strengths and capitalize on them. But smaller teams also make it easier for business to become personal.
It is these situations that will test your conflict resolution skills as a leader. Hone in your talents and proceed with caution. And yes, you have to proceed. Nothing good can come out avoiding a situation and hoping it will blow over. What can start as a little disagreement will eventually turn into an insurmountable problem.
Another good piece of advice is be proactive; consider your team members’ skills and personalities before you build your team. Are they too similar? Are they too different? Or are they beautifully compatible?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong believer that everyone can learn to work well together, no matter how different or how similar. But knowing what you’re dealing with is always helpful. So consider a team building session, have everyone make an inventory of their skills and their biggest pet peeves. Doesn’t that sound like a great plan?
Team management is not easy. But getting these best practices down pat will definitely prove to be beneficial. Trust me! Make sure you have a clear vision, align your team and their work approaches to that vision, clearly define responsibilities, champion accountability, have measureable benchmarks, and face conflict head on. All that’s left after that is leading your team to success! Good luck!