Teams are made up of a diverse group of people, all with their own unique set of values, talents, and experiences. With that, there is no surprise that issues may arise. There are many reasons that the team dynamic could be off, but could management be one of them. How do you know if management, or lack thereof, is the reason your team is fizzling? Look for these five signs…
In any team, communication is the key to being a well-oiled machine and getting things done. It is often said, communication is a two-way street. Although cliche, it is very true. In instances where team members refuse to communicate with each other or are only communicating via email/text, the message can become distorted. Email and text communications have no emotion, no voice inflection, and no body language to help the reader understand the meaning. At the first sign of a communication breakdown within the team, there should be measures taken right away to address or correct the issue. If the team cannot “self-correct” this issue, a communication issue should never be ignored. It is the managers’ job to intervene, pinpoint the underlying issue(s), and facilitate a resolution.
Other communication issues include mixed messages and gossip. As yourself: Is the team receiving mixed messages? If members of the team interpret the same message differently, the answer is yes. The most obvious team communication issue is team members speaking negatively about each other behind their backs.
Why is this a management issue? Because, whether or not team members are able to openly and clearly communication with each other is reflective of the manager(s) above them. For example, if the manager is regularly in their office with the door closed, it would be hard to notice or even address any communication issues. As previously mentioned, these types of issues should be addressed right away. Avoiding or ignoring them, like the elephant in the room, will only give them more time to snowball into bigger issues.
A manager should not be performing any tasks that are the responsibility of anyone else on their team. Unless, of course, the team member is out and the manager is covering for them. Roles and responsibilities should be clear to everyone on the team. All team members should be clear on their role and responsibilities as well as accountable for such. The manager should not feel compelled to assign a task and then complete it themselves or go back over it to do it their way. This is not only micro-managing and double-work, but it creates an air of distrust, showing the team or team member that they are not trusted. Management should ensure that there is clarity on directions and deadlines for assigned tasks and follow up only after the deadline has passed. Otherwise, be clear that the team members are encouraged to reach out should they need help or wish to give updates.
If a manager finds that they are wasting time (yes, wasting) micro-managing or re-doing work, there may be opportunity for individual or group coaching. First, the manager may need to do some reflection to see if these wasteful practices are self-inflicted or an indication that some processes need improvement.
Yes, burn-out is a poor management concern. Both Forbes and Harvard Business Review have identified employee burn out as a company issues and not an employee issue as once believed.
An excerpt from HBR states: “The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent. Executives need to own up to their role in creating the workplace stress that leads to burnout—heavy workloads, job insecurity, and frustrating work routines that include too many meetings and far too little time for creative work” (Garten, 2017).
Aside from creating unhealthy team members, the team is also at a greater risk for losing team members completely. Teams and team members suffering from burn out or severe stress are a sign that roles and responsibilities need to be realigned, processes need to be improved, and/or the team is understaffed.
The word team indicates togetherness and a common-goal. With that in mind, no one team member should feel singled-out. Nor should cliques within a team be acceptable (or overlooked). Cliques and loners create a divide in the team and often an “imaginary” hierarchy.
Again, departmental or work unit culture comes into play. When management becomes aware of these types of disconnections, critical conversations and creative solutions to get the team aligned are key.
Process improvement should be a regular occurrence in every department, work unit, and business. Process improvement helps to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and create best practices. Everyone on the team should be trained to recognize opportunities for process improvement, how to report them, and document recommendations.
Inefficient process in a team indicate that the team manager is either not as vigilant as they should be, the team is not properly trained on process improvement, or the team is not empowered to improve their own work processes.
Ultimately, these five team issues are reflective of poor management because the manager sets the culture for the work environment. If you are on a team or managing a team that is displaying any of these issues, take some time to assess the underlying causes and a plan to realign. It is never too late to regroup, however the longer these issues linger, the harder it may be resolve them and get back together. Even losing “problem” team members and adding new ones won’t fix the issue.
What are your thoughts on Poor management and Team issues?
Are you having team issues and looking to rebuild or realign? Diamond Strategic Management Design can help. Reach out via my Contact page or at http://www.diamondstrategicmanagement.com