Teamwork is a powerful thing. It enables organizations to move forward and resolve difficult issues that could not be handled using any other strategy. We have seen groups use the power of teamwork to resolve problems and remove roadblocks in order to maintain the viability of their organizations and allow them to thrive.
We need to remember, however, that just announcing a team-based process is not enough. We have discussed the need for training, commitment, and real collaboration for teams if they are to be successful. While the concept may seem simple, it requires support from all levels of the organization.
A recent article on the likeateam website listed reasons behind possible team failure. Their top 5 factors and our comments about them are:
- Teamwork fails because of weak communications between team members.
If team members do not feel ownership of their team, they will not participate fully and communications will suffer. When this occurs, vital information will not be shared, hampering decision making and effectiveness.
When CALMC trains teams, we spend time developing effective two-way communications among the members. This includes breaking down long-standing barriers between levels and individuals within the organization.
- Teamwork fails due to a lack of networking and partnering with other organizations outside of the team.
We encourage teams to consider the needs and interests of their customers, both internal and external. Failure to do this can result in decisions that are not workable within the entire organization. They may also miss opportunities to use the expertise and resources of others in the organization.
- Teamwork fails because the vision of the team leaders and the day-to-day workings of the team are imbalanced.
Teams cannot do their work in a vacuum. We encourage teams to consider their mission and how it aligns with the organization. They also need to consider factors that may work against implementing the work of the team and consider how to avoid or resolve them.
- Teamwork fails due to wasting time on daily problems and not accomplishing goals and strategies.
When teams have a set agenda for meetings and give priority to making progress on those items, they can avoid this stumbling block. The hot item of the day may still come up, but should be deferred to the end of the agenda unless it impacts the current work of the team.
- Teamwork fails because of poor operating strategies. All team members do not own the team plan.
Team members need to be involved in setting goals that all members agree with and want to accomplish. This process must reflect the consensus of all team members, not the dictates of others.
To accomplish these goals, CALMC works with teams to develop an organized problem solving process and use it consistently. Teams follow the steps in the process and make progress toward their goals at each meeting.
While we agree the items on this list represent obstacles to effective teamwork, the list misses the biggest barrier to effectiveness. All team members must be committed to being part of the team and its work. Without that commitment, team members will not be willing to give the effort an effective team process requires.
Putting people on a team is easy. Putting the right people on a team and building team spirit is much more difficult. Teams require assistance to get off to a good start, build an effective process, and sustain progress. CALMC can help you create an effective team process or optimize an existing team to add value to your organization.