The trouble with teamwork…regardless of how old you are: To get things done you will inevitably work with someone you don’t like. That can be difficult, to say the least. As an educator, I constantly have to remind kids they don’t have to LIKE the person they are working with, but they do have to show RESPECT to one another if they have any hope of getting the project done. Liking is optional. Respect is mandatory.
When you look at it objectively it makes sense, doesn’t it? Show respect. Do your job. It is pretty simple. If only people would do that. I wonder how that would affect our Gross National Product? If we could put feelings aside for the good of the school, company, or organization that we are trying to work for, wouldn’t life be better? Wouldn’t we all be happier, more productive, and less stressed? The obvious answer is, “Yes!”
OK. So I have to ask: Why do we continue to live with dysfunctional teams as something acceptable? Here are a few things I have identified over the years that kill team spirit:
- You have a leader, manager, director, or owner (whatever you want to call the guy or gal in charge) that won’t lead. They refuse to make decisions on things that matter. They get caught in the weeds of everyday issues. They get don’t know how or are not willing to delegate, and, they won’t take responsibility for the outcomes. Any or all of those things will kill the spirit of the team. It starts at the top.
- You have a leader that won’t give credit where credit is due. They are quick to blame and slow to give kudos. They tend to take credit for the things that go right and blame others when things go wrong. That will deflate any team quickly.
- One bad apple spoils the bunch. If you as the person in charge allow someone who is negative, lazy, or irresponsible to remain integrally involved in the day to day operations of the business, eventually they will taint the rest and the group will come to believe that they are right in their warped views because nobody had the courage to confront them or correct them. By the way, just because someone does not agree with you does not make them negative or wrong. You need to listen to them and objectively hear what they have to say. They could be right. It takes courage to speak up when everyone else is remaining silent. My advice to those with a complaint is: Don’t complain unless you can offer a possible solution. Complaining with no solution alternative is just whining and nobody likes a whiner.
- Poor training and lack of support will kill team spirit. Make sure the people are properly trained and you support them through the process so when problems arise, they are not tossed under the bus as the one to blame. They need to be supported even when mistakes happen. By the way…mistakes WILL happen as long as humans are involved. If you are a wise Manager, you will support your team through the good times and the bad times. Make sure your team knows not just what to do, but how to do it before you give them full responsibility.
- Lack of forgiveness will put a wedge in any team. If someone has a grudge against another person it has to be addressed. Regardless of the willingness to accept responsibility or not, they need to forgive the infraction and move on. It is a matter of looking beyond the feelings and focusing on the goal for the good of ALL concerned. If you are determined to dwell on petty things, then you can expect petty results.
Teams will only work when the team functions on all cylinders. Keep your team fine-tuned and in good running condition if you expect to get where you want to go.