By: Executive Coach Monique Betty
Most successful organizations are actually made up of smaller, successful teams, which are the building blocks that allow an enterprise to grow and continue to triumph for years to come. That being said, when even a single team is out of sync, it can noticeably affect the entire business, so if you have a broken team on your hands, it’s time you took a leadership role and began putting it back together. Usually, the problem is being caused by one central issue, so let’s look at what that could possibly be.
A lot of times, the problem is simply that a team lacks clear priorities. It’s easy for those of us in leadership positions to act as though this could never be the case. Unfortunately, you might find that lack of leadership is what’s actually causing it.
Yes, we all have a job to do when we come into work in the morning, but that doesn’t mean that management’s expectations have necessarily been made clear (they often change, too). As a result, you can have a team that appears to be dysfunctional or listless, when in fact they just have no idea what they’re expected to do next.
Sometimes, a team that looks outstanding on paper is actually completely broken and this can happen when their sense of comfort has overtaken the ambition they once had. They’re happy taking the same approach to every challenge because they’ve learned it’s the best way to avoid rocking the boat.
Unfortunately for those members, innovation is essential for the evolution and success of any kind of team. At the moment, this sense of comfort may not be a huge problem, but some day, they will come face-to-face with a challenge that demands more from them. Then what?
In your leadership capacity, begin introducing these kinds of projects to the team and give them no choice but to abandon comfort and find that old fire that used to galvanize them to action.
Far more frustrating than a comfortable team is an apathetic one where most of the members have checked out. They’re not even victims of their own success; they’re just being lazy, which means it’s time to hold their feet to the flames. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of splitting the team up and sending individual members to other teams, because while you may think this will help rid them of their apathy, if it spreads in the least, you’ll be sorry.
At the end of the day, apathy is unacceptable, especially in an economy when most people would be grateful to have a place to work. Have a meeting to outline your expectations and, after that, anyone who keeps missing the mark should be terminated on the spot.
Never underestimate the role of office politics. Some teams are able to keep things professional on the surface, but all kinds of issues are boiling over just below. It’s often easy to determine this is the issue because you’ll be dealing with a team that has all the right ingredients, but can’t produce a direct answer for why they’re failing.
Once again, this type of team is one that desperately needs leadership. No qualified leader would let something so petty hurt their team. Give the leader an ultimatum to make this problem disappear ASAP or explain to them that they will be handed their walking papers.
Being in a leadership position means you sometimes have to make hard choices like the ones listed above. However, if you don’t, your teams will suffer and, ultimately, so will the entire company.
Career and Executive Coach Monique Betty is a leading provider of leadership development and career advancement for midcareer professionals in the workplace. Serving clients around the world, Monique primarily works virtually with high-performing individuals who desire to take their professional skills to the next level.