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6. Dealing with Problems
Friction between team members leads to wasted energy and poor productivity.
- If personal criticism crops up in meetings, refocus the discussion by asking what needs to be done, not who is at fault.
- If necessary, clarify job descriptions and reporting lines within the team.
- Where possible, allow distance between team members who do not get on.
- Discuss personal conflicts between members privately with each party - and ask each of them to propose a solution.
- If one member is at odds with the others and cannot function happily within the team, be ready to say goodbye.
Rivalries may develop between teams within a business.
You may need to go out of your way to reinforce the idea that you are all on the same side.
- Invite members of other teams to attend your meetings.
- Set up mixed-team task groups to solve the problems teams have in common.
- Ask other teams to tell you what your team does that helps them, and what you could do differently to help more.
- Organise teambuilding activities where members of different teams are mixed together.
- Include members of other teams in some of your social activities.
6.3 It may become clear that the team is making bad decisions.
- Be ready to hold spontaneous reviews if a problem arises.
- If a poor decision has been made, analyse the decision-making process. For example, was everyone consulted and did everyone really agree to the plan? Examine who influenced the group, and why.
- Ask what the team can learn that will help it avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
6.4 The team may collectively underperform, delivering less than you would expect from the people involved.
- Begin by gaining the whole team's acceptance that all is not well. You cannot begin to change the situation if some team members are in denial and insisting that nothing is wrong.
- Get a trusted 'outsider' to sit in on meetings and comment frankly on the team at work. This person might be a senior member of the business, or a representative of another related team.
- Maintain the discipline of assigning actions to individuals and making sure actions are reviewed on the agreed date.
- Organise a meeting specifically to re-motivate the team. Review team goals and recognise successes to date, reinforcing pride in the team's positive achievements.
6.5 Towards the end of its life, a project team may start to feel demotivated.
- Arrange a formal ending that team members can look forward to. This might be a party for team members, an official launch, or high-profile internal publicity within the business about the achievement of the team's objectives.
- Get the team to discuss and draft a press release for publication in relevant trade magazines or local papers.