Feedback and Rewards

How Managers Can Demolish a Team Without Really Trying!

Jan Springthorpe asked:

How managers can demolish a team without really trying.

Teamwork is the backbone of good performance in many organisations and team managers have a vital role to play in making teams effective. They can also cause a great deal of damage to teams and totally demolish them in some cases. Maybe it’s time to think about whether the managers in your organisation build high performing teams or destroy them!

There is no doubt that teamwork is a powerful way to achieve great results. I firmly believe in the collective energy and synergy of teamwork and I have never underestimated the role of managers in leading their teams. The problem is that managers can be bad news for teams if they don’t have the skills to lead, influence, motivate and build cohesive, effective teams. Some managers may as well wear hard hats and steel toe caps as they set out, unintentionally of course, to demolish their teams.

Here are 9 ways to do just that!

Have no team purpose

A team needs a common purpose so that the team members understand what the team is all about and know what they are there to achieve. It’s easy to lose sight of what the team as a whole is working towards and the rationale for its existence. A team without a purpose can soon lose its sense of direction.

Share no goals

A team is a collection of individuals who work together to achieve a common purpose. In order to move together towards a desired outcome or result, the team needs to develop clear goals and objectives that they all share, understand and are committed to achieving. Team members who work in isolation of each other with only their own agenda in mind dilute the energy and capability of the team.

Have no clear roles and responsibilities

Even when the team’s purpose is clear, people in the team still need to know exactly what their role is and what they are expected to contribute in order to achieve the team’s goals. Muddled job roles, blurred lines of accountability and responsibility and confusion about what is expected from individual team members will waste effort and risk goals not being met.

Pay no heed to individual development

The individual contribution that team members make is vital to the overall success of the team. Each member must be supported in their learning and development so that they can develop the knowledge, skills and behaviour that is relevant to their role within the team. Neglecting the individual development of team members will put the team at risk of failing to achieve its goals and create weak links.

Have no co-operation

Teams that don’t co-operate can’t operate! Managers must work with their teams to foster good relationships between members, to promote mutual support and to create an atmosphere of willing assistance. A team that pulls together, stays together.

Have no trust or openness

Trust is the cornerstone of teamwork. Team members should feel safe amongst their colleagues, be able to express their views honestly and openly and not live in fear of being betrayed or let down by others. When people in the team protect their own backs and look after themselves the team suffers. Managers have a responsibility to create a safe environment in which people feel okay about making mistakes, asking for help or feeling out of their depth.

Allow no freedom to act

For teams to perform above and beyond expectations they need autonomy and freedom to act. Managers should aim to give teams the maximum amount of responsibility to carry out their activities, to make their own decisions and to focus on self management and self direction. When the team takes ownership of its performance it takes pride in the output and quality of its work.

Give no feedback

One of the key things that motivates people is feedback about their performance. We all need to know “how am I doing?” Individuals within the team and the team as a whole need regular, constructive feedback about their performance. Recognition for great performance, praise, guidance when things could be done better, attention to gaps in performance are essential for the team to feel valued and to continuously improve.

Discourage innovation or creativity

Teams are dynamic and they pass through stages in their development, changing as members come and go, adapting to changes in the task or when new goals are set. Teams need to be able to think on their feet in a crisis, explore new ways of doing things, pool their ideas and stretch their imagination. Any team can soon become stale and listless without a conscious effort to exercise their creative muscles.

So there we have it – 9 things that can topple any team! How does your organisation compare? Are your teams about to fall down?

Take a walk around your organisation, talk to managers, talk to employees, ask them how they feel about the team that they belong to. Ask if they feel that they have a common purpose, shared goals, clear roles, trust and all of the other things that add up to building an effective team. More importantly, find out if your managers have what it takes to build their teams and take them to the next level.


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