Has your team developed a life of its own?
When a team, or an organisation, reaches a certain size it begins to have a dynamic of its own, quite different from that of a loose group of individuals – and for managers it can seem as if the skills you’ve learnt about managing yourself, your work and your people, have deserted you.
What you’ve probably missed is that there’s been a ‘state change’ in your business.
You can no longer sit in the middle of the web, like an all-seeing spider, and manage the individuals. If you try, it’ll be a recipe for chaos and stress. You’ll also permanently restrict the capacity of your business to grow, as you simply can’t manage more than a certain number of people this way.
Some conversations are better held as a team. Questions like:
- What are the basic groundrules around here?
- How should we run our meetings?
- What are our values?
- What behaviour is and isn’t acceptable between us?
- Who is accountable for what and to whom?
- What does it actually mean to ‘be accountable’ anyway?
These are all conversations which you and the team should hold together. Negotiate the rules and thrash out solutions which work for everybody.
There’s no substitute for creating a clearly defined set of rules and structures for communicating professionally at work – and if you do so, you’ll have better working relationships, because you develop them and you maintain them.
This will help your team function well under stress, and stay together through any tensions.
What Happens to Teams Under Stress?
Unfortunately, at times of stress your groundrules may fall apart, and the balance of the team is upset. We’ve identified six vital dimensions to achieving team effectiveness:
Alignment: the degree to which everyone on the team understands its larger purpose and focuses their actions and those of the team on that objective.
Resilience: the degree to which a team can hold itself together, even under severe stress, and remain effective.
Energy: the degree to which a team is ambitious, takes the initiative and maintains momentum at a high level over a long period of time.
Openness: the degree to which a team engages with the broader organisation and the outside world, and challenges itself to adopt new information and best practice.
Efficiency: the degree to which the team optimises resources and time and drives efficiently for results.
Balance: the degree to which a team understands the importance of a diversity of skills and strengths, and incorporates members with different experience, knowledge and functional skills.
Most teams, in the rush of getting on with the ‘day job’, never discuss these vital issues – or only do so when something goes badly wrong! Only when you’ve created a stable platform can you mutually agree actions for moving the team forward.