April 5, 2016 | Written by: Dave Millner
In times of increasing change and business challenges, organizations have to find ways of responding creatively. That inevitably requires people to cooperate with each other at a level far higher than they are accustomed to. I’ve found that it is rare that one person can produce either all the ideas required or be capable of implementing all those ideas in the real world. The whole area of team development becomes more important and puts pressure on leaders to build that cooperation within and between teams to get the best results.
Since a team is a network of relationships, if the relationships do not work, then neither will the team. If relationships are really bad, then the whole is likely to be less than the sum of the parts. Poor relationships at work cause a lack of engagement in what the organization is trying to achieve leading to wasted energy and a lack of focus.
Sometimes, clients tell me that their team members aren’t working together, and they can’t work out what to do about it. One reason may be that the team members do not believe they need to be a team beyond reporting terms. For example, some teams of sales people are rewarded only on their individual performances, and in those circumstances you will find it hard to convince them of the need to share and work together. True teams need to be able to identify what they rely upon each other for.
Conflict between people and teams can manifest itself in open antagonism, but differences of opinion, personality or personal values can be less obvious but equally damaging. So how can you recognize the more subtle symptoms of conflict? They might include not completing work on time, no responses to phone calls or e-mails, information being hoarded or not shared, or being absent from work.
If you spot any of these symptoms it may be worth asking yourself whether there is more to them than meets the eye. Is there something that needs to be investigated within the team? Sometimes it requires some coaxing to get someone to open up about what is wrong, and team members might be unwilling to voice an opinion different from the rest of the team. This is where leaders have to be brave, and work through the differences; because it is worth it. If you do not do anything, and hope that the problem will go away; it most likely will not. It will probably get worse!
Learn more about building engaged teams. Download: Amplifying employee voice: How organizations can better connect to the pulse of the workforce.