In a recent blog, I promised to dedicate some time to the topic of building an effective team. I stressed the importance of giving team relationship adequate attention and outlined a couple of risks if the relationship is neglected.
In my work as a facilitator, there is one question that I get a lot. So what should you do if your team isn’t in sync? The answer depends on several factors, which include: the team, the problem (or pain, as we call it), and the cause of the pain.
It’s often best to start by unearthing the potential contributing factors to the problem. Have there been changes in the work environment? What are the demands that the team is being challenged with? Has there been a change in personnel? Has the personnel change impacted the group dynamic? There are endless scenarios that I could highlight here, but the important thing to remember is this – try to get to the root cause so you’re not just treating the symptoms, but you also understand the disease. You may or may not be able to change the cause, but understanding where the team’s pain is coming from can be important as you begin to work through the challenges.
I facilitated a staff retreat several months ago that provides a great example. In this customer’s scenario, staff changes had taken place at an executive level. This had resulted in a great deal of upheaval. The trickle down effects were additional personnel changes and a new methodology for running the business. New processes were put into place, and old, long-ignored processes were reinstated. No longer could an employee do something because “that’s the way we did it before.”
These changes created a new team dynamic. Some of the team members were excited by the new challenges and the potential for growth and success. Others resisted the change and were fearful of what was going to happen next.
When we designed and then delivered the retreat, we kept all of the above factors in mind. We spent two days focusing on the rebuilding of this team. Part of the process involved sharing information. This alleviated some of the fears of the unknown that the team members were experiencing. We also provided new tools in communication and leadership to equip the team to meet the business standards being set by the new director. Lastly, we combined social events and facilitated discussions to allow people to dialogue and solidify their relationships. At the conclusion of the event, definite progress had been made. The participants were open in their sharing, and the atmosphere was positive.
This is just one example of how a team decided to navigate a major transition. The solution for another team scenario could be completely different. As a leader, you might want to begin by taking the “pulse” of your team. How’s the team’s morale? How’s communication going? What are the challenges that the team is facing? Are any of these factors impacting the effectiveness of team? When you’ve drilled down into the cause of the issues, you’ll be much more likely to create an on-target team building effort.
Angela Gallogly, ATC Vice President of USA Operations