Human Resources

Working Toward Curing Teamwork Illnesses

By Mario Moussa, PhD, Derek Newberry, PhD, and Madeline Boyer

In yesterday’s Advisor, Dr. Mario Moussa, Dr. Derek Newberry, and Madeline Boyer, authors of Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance, presented two of the five most damaging teamwork ills and the prescriptions to remedy them. Today, Moussa, Newberry, and Boyer discuss the final three teamwork ills.

3. Making too Many Rules

Human beings are rule-making machines—it is what defines us as a species and allows us to interact as social beings. Often, the tendency in teams is to try to plan for every possible situation and to create rules for all potential contingencies.

This is both time consuming and ineffective. Starbucks® CEO and founder Howard Schultz understood the importance of focusing on the right rules when he decided to bring back in-store bean grinding to help restore the brand’s reputation and performance.

Teamwork Rx: Focus on the few rules that are likely to have the biggest impact on your team’s culture and performance: information sharing, decision making, and conflict resolution.

4. Ignoring Reflection

One of the major cognitive biases recognized by research is outcome bias: If you’re successful, you don’t really reflect on what went well or could have gone better.

However, in a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA), successes are fleeting, and reflection is as imperative when things are going well as they are when they’re not.

Too often, companies and teams reserve formal reflection for annual retreats or quarterly reviews, when in reality, it needs to be taking place with much more frequency.

Teamwork Rx: Remember that check-ins need not always be huge affairs reserved for day-long retreats—they can be as simple as a weekly stand-up meeting.

5. Failing to Sell the Change

You can be right but ultimately still unsuccessful. Such was the case for Lloyd Braun, the ABC executive who was the champion and driving force behind the smash hit, Lost. Braun was so convinced that his idea would be a hit that he barreled through greenlighting the most expensive television pilot budget to date: $12 million. Braun did not take the time to get others on board with his vision, and even though his intuition was correct, he was fired before the show even premiered.

Teamwork Rx: Strength of will and charisma are not enough to push through change—work hard to get buy-in so that people want to come along with you.

In the end, good “teaming” is about being mindful about how you’re working together and making sure to check in frequently to close the gaps between what you say you want to do and what you’re actually doing.

1 thought on “Working Toward Curing Teamwork Illnesses”

  1. Teamwork is esential to any company being succesful but it is more than just the employees working as a team. The Leadership must provide the right atmoshere by sharing thoughts, ideas and plans for changes so the team can provide valuable input and actually be a part of the change. When Leadership wants to change something and communicates the changes without participation from the group then it may fail. If it does not fail it may be viewed as a success but the team may be unhappy and less productive which cost companies in the long run. Change is not eay for anyone but for the team to embrace the change they must be a part of the solution.

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