Why Teams Don't Gel

By Gaunt, Kevin | New Zealand Management, May 2007 | Go to article overview
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Why Teams Don't Gel

Gaunt, Kevin, New Zealand Management

Q The team I manage isn't cohesive enough, t spend a lot of my time on issues between team members rather than with what we are really here for, It's not helping anyone.

A There are many reasons why teams don't gel. Firstly--and I know you may not want to hear this--look at your own management skills and experience. Put bluntly, are you up to the challenge? If you reckon you could improve some areas, set yourself up with an experienced mentor or an appropriate management course.

There are a number of underpinning initiatives that can help build an effective team. The starting point is having good strategic and business plans and getting the people in your team involved in developing them. This creates effective leadership and engagement: leadership in the sense that people can see what the goals are and can work out how they can contribute; and engagement through people being involved and deciding for themselves how they can achieve the goals.

Make sure you provide clear and straightforward job descriptions linked to the organisation's goals. This gives people a sporting chance of understanding how they fit in and what is expected of them. It also allows management to be hands off and helps team members take on increased accountability which, again, leads to increased engagement.

Next, give people regular feedback on how their team and the organisation as a whole is progressing against these plans and discuss how they personally are progressing against their own targets.

You can also introduce specific interventions to help build your team, such as involving the team in meetings to focus on the development or measurement of strategy. Or try encouraging them to brainstorm ways to improve their work environment or processes.

Some managers use team building programmes or experiences. These often involve an external facilitator and working, often outside, on various team challenges and puzzles that enable team members to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and how to collaborate effectively. This type of shared experience can be fun and, done well, can build a shared team mindset.

You should be able to find something that will make a difference if you adopt some of these ideas.

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