Team Building – Building Collaborative Work Teams

“Coming together is a beginning – Keeping together is progress – Working together is success” – Henry Ford.

Dolphins do it, humpback whales do it, even lions, orcas and wolves do it, and of course humans try to do – so says Phil Baguley author of “Teams and Team-Working”. Why teams? Do we really accomplish more? Reduce costs? – Or is it just wishful thinking? I know we expect our team mates to “take one” for the Gipper – but really – give me a break. Teams and work teams make for a great sound bite – but in the real world – your world – do they produce the kinds of results that you want? Or do they create more problems than they’re worth?

The Ten Obstacles to Teamwork

Mike Rogers, owner of a team and leadership development organization based in Cedar City Utah (he can be reached at poled members of his Linkedin Group of Managers to find out what they thought where some of the road blocks to building successful teams. Here’s their list of the top ten obstacles to teamwork and what I think you can do to overcome them. What obstacles would you put on your list?

  1. Lack of a competent leader: Managers aren’t expected to know everything – But, team members expect  them to know where to go to find out. Know what you are talking about. Don’t make it up as you go along. You shouldn’t be playing a game of smoke and mirrors.
  2. Lack of goals and goal alignment: You need to be very clear on what it is you want to accomplish and then put a plan together that will accomplish it. Everyone on your team needs to be on the same page – working towards a common goal.
  3. Individual focus on themselves and not their team: There can’t be any hidden personal agendas. There can only be one agenda. The team’s agenda. Everyone needs to understand that if the team wins – everybody wins.
  4. Lack of understanding team members. What motivates you may not motivate them. Managers need to take the time to find out what their people’s needs are. And then work very hard to make sure their needs are met.
  5. Lack of clarity on team roles, the purpose or vision of the team. Everyone has a strength that they bring to the team. Managers need to put people in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths. Every decision you make as a manager must be a reflection of your team’s purpose and vision. (If it isn’t – don’t do it)
  6. Lack of focus on team rewards and appreciation. You’re the manager. You’re going to get most of the credit for the teams successes. Share the praise. Acknowledge the contribution of your work team members. Praise goes a long way and it didn’t cost you a dime.
  7. Lack of spending time together as a team. People want to feel important. They want to feel needed. Take the time to build relationships with the people you work with. People perform better for people they like and respect.
  8. Poor communication. You can’t communicate too much. People want to know what’s going on – good or bad – especially if it’s going to impact them. Poor communication can be as simple as not posting their weekly hours schedule on time.
  9. Lack of trust. If they can’t trust your word – they won’t trust you at all. Your word is your bond. What ever  you say you’re going to do – do it.
  10. Lack of accountability. We all make mistakes – including you. Don’t try to justify it or cover it up. Admit it up front – learn from it – and carry on. Managers must hold their people accountable for the results. If you let one team member get away with poor performance – you’ll need to let everyone get away with poor performance. Based on my experience – workers don’t have an issue with company policy and procedures. They understand that there needs to be rules. They have an issue however, if those policies and procedures aren’t applied fairly, evenly and consistently across the board. Rules need to apply to everyone – including you.