Is something wrong with your team? Things aren’t going as well as you’d like, and you just can’t put your finger on what could be causing the problem. It’s similar to coming down with the flu. You know the symptoms all too well — a few aches and pains creep up, and then before you know it, you have a full-fledged fever!
Sick teams have symptoms that will help you diagnose the root cause of the problem. Rather than “band-aid” the symptom, treat the cause to get your team healthy again. Watch for the following symptoms and potential prescriptions:
Confused. Team members appear bewildered and lost. They do weird things that don’t seem to contribute to the team’s success. When dazed and confused, create a conversation around the team’s “vision” or destination. Where does the team want to go? What’s the ultimate destination? Search for common agreement on the team’s vision.
Ethically Challenged. Team members not only do weird things, but they do peculiar, questionable things that affect team success. Different individual values seem to influence team behavior. Consider having a frank discussion about what values are important to the team. Get agreement on explicit rules of behavior or “ground rules” on how to move forward.
Scattered. If your team members are acting on their own accord, working at odds with each other, or in a haphazard fashion, you are lacking a clear strategy on how to move forward and be successful. Brainstorm different possible strategies, narrow down the list to the top three, and then discuss the “pros and cons” for each strategy. As a team, come to a mutual agreement on how to move forward.
Frustrated. Your team is annoyed by every little thing. Little things become big things. Team members may even start sniping at each other. It feels like the team has quit smoking cigarettes and is going through nicotine withdrawal! Chances are your team is suffering from a lack of resources. They just don’t have the tools to do the job. Ask the team, “What necessary resources (human talent, money, time, machinery, equipment, etc.) are we lacking? Develop a plan to access or request these vital resources.
Stalled. The team is moving at a snail’s pace. Rather than watch the snail writhe in a salt bath, ask each team member the “WIIFM” question (What’s In It For Me). “What would inspire you to act positively on behalf of the team?” Don’t settle for global, patronizing, motivational balderdash. Probe for meaningful, specific, concrete ideas. Then figure out how to tap into these stated WIIFMs. Provide the jet fuel for the team to blast forward!
Tired. Sometimes the team just doesn’t have the right talent. They don’t have the skills or capabilities to accomplish the mission. You can see inability by the fatigue in their faces. They are tired of trying to push the rock up the hill, only to have it fall back to the original position. Or they don’t even have the strength to try. Either provide appropriate skills training or recruit the additional talent on the team.
Doubt. The team is mired in the quicksand of doubt. Can they be successful? Will they be successful? Does management really care? Allow the team to vent their issues and concerns to the team sponsor, champion, or big kahuna. Someone up the food chain needs to acknowledge the concerns, give meaningful and genuine feedback to the team, and resolve to remove any barriers facing the team.
Question: Have you taken your team’s temperature lately?
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