There’s no doubt about it. A group can be an effective instrument for completing a huge task, or guiding an entire unit to greater efficiency, or bringing in diverse perspectives to tackle a challenging issue.
Have you ever been part of a well-functioning and high-performing team? You indeed have nostalgic memories of how exciting it was and how wonderful feeling of pride when you do amazing things.
The top teams, which includes definitely that fantastic team you were on, aren’t just proficient at generating outcomes. They also track their process, including how the group thinks and makes decisions. They also monitor the morale of the team as well as the well-being of members. Thus, the most effective teams know what they’re doing in a meeting, and should it be necessary, they discuss it in the moment or in debriefing after the meeting.
Then you’ll be stuck.
Do you recall the last time in your car and your wheels were stuck in a patch of sticky dirt (or for those who live in a warmer climate and snowy bank snow or ice)? How heavy it is being stuck. How helpless and angry you feel. You try to accelerate, turning your tires faster and more quickly. If this doesn’t work, then you can try increasing the speed and then stopping trying to get the back-and-forth movement that will allow you to capture the momentum that is coming next and then rocket through the mud.
Although even the best teams can get stuck at times, the majority of working teams experience this situation more frequently than they are aware of or accept. I’ve witnessed teams get stuck for long periods of time, sometimes for days, even months.
What does it mean to me by “stuck?” Here are some examples:
A few individuals continue to dominate the debate.
*After a lot of discussions, you’re left with two sides pushing their respective options or goals.
*The discussions never stop moving off the agenda and taking up excessive amounts of time.
*Some individuals hinder the progress of the team by not attending meetings or failing to follow through with the task-related commitments they’ve given to the team.
The majority of teams are unaware of it or simply do not notice it when the group (which is, after all, an individual group of human beings) is stuck. Why? Because “stuckness” refers to a social problem, also known as a soft problem with skills. It is a matter of confronting the entire group or a few members and possibly bringing emotional issues into the mix.
The Price of Staying Stuck
It’s not possible to afford to overlook and ignore the problem for too long. If your team is stuck, it will cost you a lot of money in three ways at a minimum:
The enthusiasm and energy at the table decrease. The team members begin to feel demotivated. They lose their enthusiasm for the goals of the team. If the problem isn’t addressed, Their off-line comments regarding the team become negative. (“Man, What a waste this meeting was. We’re not getting anywhere. I’d like them to let me leave the team and go back to my regular job.”)
The extra time each of you devotes to turning the team’s wheels is the opportunity price. The time and effort you expend could be better utilized efficiently elsewhere.
Your team could spend the time needed to make a good decision or may not be able to meet the deadlines it was promised. In any case, poor choices or missed deliverables could result in serious negative consequences on the team and the larger organization.
It’s essential to be aware of when your team is in a bind and act quickly to make it flow again. Yet, it isn’t enough to ask. What do you know that your team is really stuck? Can you help turn the situation around?
Seven Pitfalls and Seven Solutions
Here are seven scenarios that could make your team exhausted and ineffective. Below are suggestions on what you can do to bring your team back to momentum.
Uncertainty about the team’s goals. We frequently conduct the work of the team without everyone being obvious and agreeing regarding the team’s objectives as well as the priorities, tasks, and deadlines. Have you ever had a group discussion to define everyone’s expectations in relation to goals, rules of operation for the team, as well as individual accountability and roles? Ask questions when you’re unclear on the subject matter. Ask the team to verify they are on the exact page.
Insufficient commitment. Sometimes, the initial commitment to the team’s objectives and priorities that they have agreed to diminish. It can be heard in their voices and observe the evidence of their attendance, participation, and delivering on commitments made to members. If certain members do not fulfill their commitments, it can cause a negative impact on the other members. Each member should be able to identify the advantages that accrue to them individually through the team’s success.
Unresponsibility. Are all team members executing on the obligations they take responsibility for and pledges they make to their group? Be accountable for confronting – with consideration and respect for the sake of the team-a member who fails to not (take responsibility to) meet the task-related commitments according to the deadline agreed upon.
The absence of leadership. Who among team members trust to lead and step up? Who ensures that the team is on track and on track? It does not have to always be the leader in a legal capacity or the boss. Any employee can be the one to take the initiative in the event of a need to push, motivate or challenge colleagues. The manager should take a more direct approach in his or her leadership. Also, discuss to the team members that no members of your team seem to be playing the role of a leader. Try stepping up yourself.
Lack of lack Communication. Communication is the heartbeat of your entire team. It’s how your team comes to decisions and can get things done. Are they being honest when they participate in group discussions? Is it okay to express your opinion even if it is against what the group or leader believes? Do all members have the chance to share their thoughts? Are members really able to engage in dialogue or argue? Encourage everyone to be more mindful of being attentive, respecting the views of everyone, and engaging in constructive debate and with respect.
Insufficient Collaboration. Some teams, due to their nature, require to work more closely than other teams. This is especially true for teams, like teams working on projects, which need to share information, come to agreements and incorporate the individual work into a larger final product. Of course, this is not a problem for a management team comprised of department heads that have little in common, other than the fact that they have the same manager. When collaboration is required, ensure that everyone is aware of what colleagues require and how their own actions (or inaction) can affect the contribution of their colleagues.
Insufficient trust. Expert in leadership Warren Bennis calls trust the “emotional glue” that helps bind a team. It is the foundation of all the six aspects, as mentioned, which are listed above. To ensure trust in your team, team members must be able to speak freely with each other and even challenge one another or the entire team. They must trust that their coworkers indeed hold their interests in high esteem. Trust builds slowly. Encourage everyone to show their credibility by observing their obligations and speaking truthfully. In exchange, others will reciprocate…and trust will grow.
No matter if your team is a multi-functional project, matrix, with a limited existence or permanent that will at times get stuck. Consider the following seven points for the keys to lifting your team away from the mud…or your snow!
Ian G. Cook is a keynote speaker, trainer, and facilitator. He is since 1988, the principal of the firm for leadership development, Fulcrum Associates Inc. He assists executives who wish to improve their effectiveness as leaders and develop a better team.
Ian is inviting you to contact Ian to discuss the ideas in this article or to discuss issues you are facing regarding building strong leadership at every level of your company, The kind of leadership that produces solid results and gives your business an edge that lasts.