Spotting the Breakdown of a Team (and What Good Leaders Do About It)
The breakdown of a team can happen quickly, unexpectedly. Or it can happen over a long period of time. Either situation isn’t ideal for you as a leader or manager tasked with maintaining team wellness, performance, productivity and results.
Of course, the last thing you want is your team to break down. A strong team is vital to an effective culture. So spotting potential breakdowns, or the warning signs of “team trouble” is key. And, odds are, it’s something you’re going to have to do as a leader at some time or other because no organization is without struggles, even struggles among teams or related to teambuilding.
- Commit to pay attention. Part of your job as a leader is noticing what’s going on around you, as in what people on your team are saying, doing, not saying, and not doing. All these things give you clues around whether teamwork is working—or not. At MAP, we like to tell our leaders to listen more, talk less. In fact, if you listen 80 percent of the time, talking or asking good questions just 20 percent of the time, you’re going to hear and notice more about how your people and teams are really doing. And don’t forget to pay attention to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, explore what your instinct is telling you, particularly in regard to the wellness of your team.
- Put an end to divisive behaviors. This means putting policies in place that prevent and don’t tolerate gossip, nurturing a culture of transparency. Foster a workplace that embraces diversity, equity and inclusiveness (DEI). Celebrate team “wins.” Honor contributions, regardless of rank or position. Support social connection among your staff and among team members. Think: Build bridges, not brokenness.
- Maintain open lines of communication. Hold morning huddles to connect daily with your teams. Also maintain various lines of communication, whether email, in-person or text, to ensure people have access to you if they need it. Finally, schedule regular check-ins, not just annual reviews, where you and your direct reports can regularly discuss how they can improve upon their own roles and responsibilities to the team. Once a year, or even six months, isn’t enough. Aim for weekly or monthly check-ins.
- Focus on what’s right not who is right. At MAP, we practice trouble-shooting challenges through a “Team Consulting” approach. By getting entire teams involved in this process that focuses on a unique problem-solving approach, we shift attention away from the person and put it on the issue, building understanding, problem-solving skills and trust—all of which strengthen and empower the teams that use the Team Consult method.
- Hold everyone accountable. When everyone is held accountable to their goals, it’s the great equalizer and one of the best ways to preserve the integrity of a team. It fosters and ensures that critical transparency and commitment to individual and team goals. At MAP, accountability is what we do. And thanks to the MAP Management System™, over 15K organizations since 1960 have learned to use accountability to build strong teams and get breakthrough results, time and time again.