Does it sometimes feel like your team is working against rather than with one another? In part, this could be because it lacks an effective structure.
Even the best team can falter if it is poorly constructed. Think of a sports team that is loaded with talent but is unable to deliver a winning record. Often, the problem is not with individual efforts, but because the team’s members do not have complementary skillsets or work well together as a whole.
If your team is struggling to mesh, it may be helpful to take a step back and objectively evaluate its functioning. Some questions to consider include:
- Does my team have the appropriate expertise and technical skills to complete assigned tasks?
- Are the different roles within the team appropriately balanced to maintain our team’s workflow and support its objectives?
- Have I clearly articulated the team’s goals?
- Does each member of my team understand their specific duties and how they fit into our larger goals?
If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” it may be time to reconsider your team’s structure and directives. Consider these steps:
- Establish concrete goals. Whether you are responsible for determining team goals or they are assigned by a more senior manager, it is important to define them clearly. This may mean reframing them in terms your team can understand. For instance, “use time more effectively” could be reframed into more concrete goals, such as “limit meetings to the topic at hand” or “identify and streamline work logjams.”
- Learn about your team. If your team has members in specialty roles that are outside your area of expertise, learn about what they do and why it is key to the organization’s functioning. Exploring different problem- solving approaches may help you determine new or more effective ways to reach goals.
- Schedule regular meetings. Meet with your full team and any sub-teams or task groups on a regular basis. (Exercise discretion on how often you need to attend small team meet-ups.) Use these meetings to review goals, refine procedures, and discuss problems. Solicit input from team members and other relevant parties.
- Summarize and follow up. It may be helpful to distribute a summary of team meetings, including a list of pending discussion items. Encourage questions and suggestions, while also continually reinforcing core messages and objectives.
- Identify blind spots. When solving a problem, consider if you are missing any relevant perspectives. For example, if a project requires a large data transfer, consult with a member of the IT department. In some instances, it may be appropriate to delegate specific projects or tasks to smaller sub-groups or a single team liaison.
- Encourage growth. If a team member expresses interest in learning new skills or moving into a different role, foster opportunities for cross-training when appropriate. Encourage team members to learn about each other’s roles and build camaraderie. Remind your team of the value in collaborating effectively with other departments or vendor partners.
- Make changes as needed. If it becomes apparent that a team member is in a role that is ill-suited to their abilities, take action. Adjust duties as appropriate to ensure that objectives are being met or workflow doesn’t suffer. Talk to HR before making any changes that would materially affect an employee’s work duties or job description.
Effective teams take time to gel, and changes in personnel may require you to make some adjustments. Keep in mind that the effort you put into maintaining your team’s structure will likely pay dividends that go well beyond productivity.
Source: Life Advantages, LLC