As a business owner, you will no doubt, face some of the common team challenges experienced by many businesses today. When you do face these problems, you will need to know how to overcome them if you want your team to deliver.
We all know that dysfunctional teams are not successful. They will become demotivated and in turn, deliver poor results.
So, here’s how to take the pain out of meetings, handle tricky conversations and solve those perennial communication problems once and for all.
Six team challenges and ways to resolve them
Here, we look at six common team challenges and provide some solutions and ideas for you to implement to overcome the issues;
1. Take the pain out of meetings
We have all experienced meetings which have been a waste of time and effort. Here are a few tips which you can use the next time you get together as a team;
- Plan ahead – Make sure there is a clear agenda which is relevant to all the attendees. Have a clear focus on the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Use time effectively make it a rule and insist that everyone reads any papers, before rather than during valuable meeting time.
- Keep the meeting on track. Build in breaks and summarise on a regular basis to capture outcomes and next steps.
- Review how the meeting went and ask the participants what went well and what could be improved.
- Circulate key ‘action’ points along with ‘names’ for who is responsible. Do this immediately after the meeting.
2. Delegate effectively
As a leader it’s often difficult to let go and easy to fall into the trap of “doing everything yourself.” It is important to challenge this mind-set.
Learning the art of delegation will not only raise team performance but also give you the time to focus on more strategic issues. It is also a great way of developing your team.
- Start by looking at your own job. What tasks could you pass on to others which would help them to develop?
- Match the task you want to delegate to the interest and development needs of your team members.
- Explain the outcome of the task and the key deliverables, but always ask the other person for ideas on how they can proceed.
- Provide support (this can also be from other team members) and arrange times to check in and review progress.
- Finally provide feedback and recognition so that the individual feels valued for the work they have done.
3. Handle personality clashes
Don’t ignore these issues – it’s often known in teams as the ‘elephant in the room’ where everyone knows but no-one is willing to talk about it.
So grasp the nettle and resist the temptation to delve into who is most to blame and what happened in the past. (You could spend days, possibly weeks, at this!) Instead, focus on what’s required to create an effective working relationship and outline a practical framework for those involved which should include the following points:
- Be clear about the behaviours you want to see. Also, remember to set out what behaviour is not acceptable.
- Encourage individual responsibility. Expect those involved to overcome personal issues and find a way to work together effectively.
- Hold regular reviews to ensure that a few good weeks don’t slide back into the previous in-fighting and office politics.
4. Deal with poor performance
If you don’t tackle poor performance early it will impact on the rest of the team’s motivation. It is important not to put off a difficult conversation. To make this easier:
- Talk to the person, and make them aware of the situation. Ask questions empathetically to understand if there are underlying reasons.
- Be clear and specific with the feedback and avoid layering it with emotion.
- Focus on times when performance was really good.
- Ask questions and explore solutions together.
- Support and encourage, but be clear about your expectations and time lines for improvement.
- Set clear objectives and goals and monitor progress.
- Hold regular review meetings. Have a series of them in place to ensure you are tracking progress together.
5. Develop strong collaboration
For any team to support each other to deliver high quality, creative solutions they need to be able to work together and collaborate. The characteristics of good team collaboration can be summed under 4 key areas; Values, Approach, Communication, Empathy (VACE).
To collaborate well teams need to share the same values. For example if the focus of your organisation is meeting customer needs, the whole team needs to buy into this so that they can go the extra mile together to deliver a great product or service.
Collaboration doesn’t just happen. It requires encouragement, support and feedback. Make sure that you encourage people to share and work together. Build it into people’s objectives and share examples of when this happens well.
To create a culture of collaboration people need to understand each other’s roles and to share ideas. Creating opportunities to share ideas either through face to face meetings or via technology is important and should be part of your overall communication strategy.
Research by MIT(1) highlighted that in successful team collaboration all team members talk and listen in equal amounts and connect directly with each other on a regular basis. Good collaboration requires a balance of support and challenge and the ability to listen to all ideas.
6. Build trust
Trust is one of the most important ingredients for your team. Without it the team won’t deliver good results. Your leadership approach is key to building trust and team spirit.
Try to avoid micromanaging and allow the team to come up with their own solutions. Be prepared for occasional mistakes and see these as coaching opportunities. Good trust is quickly built if you factor in:
- Setting clear boundaries and expectations
- Willingness to tackle tough issues
- Listening and relational skills
- Regular communication
- Demonstrating trust in others.
Remember that trust is reciprocal. If you trust and support your colleagues, the likelihood is that they will do the same. Also, teams who demonstrate trust amongst themselves seem to mirror this behaviour with others and will create trusting relationships with other stakeholders.
Reference – 1. Pentland, A.S, 2012. The new science of creating great teams HBR, April
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Pam Jones, Vicki Holton and Angela Jowitt authors of How to coach your team: release team potential and hit peak performance published by Pearson, priced £19.99.