Months ago, when you were introduced to your team in the office, everyone seemed like they would work together well and production would flow smoothly. Fast-forward months later, and instead of hitting benchmarks on time, you and your colleagues are lagging behind due to a variety of problems— including the fact that you don’t work together well enough, including communicating well.
Letting teammates fail is not an option, since most teams share benchmarks. Depending on the situation, there could be many reasons why things slip through the cracks when teamwork goes awry. Here’s how to manage.
Our teams struggle when we don’t maintain strong work relationships
There’s a whole host of reasons why your team might not be meeting their deadlines on time and/or working effectively. But most of it boils down to individual members failing to show respect or communicate well with others.
Dr. David Chaudron explains “personal causes of poor teams” in a CEOWORLD Magazine article.
“These include ignorance of conflict resolution skills; unwillingness to speak up when things are going wrong; a poor mix of team members that result in insufficient skills, as well as conflicting priorities and personalities. If the team has a designated supervisor or task leader, their personality and management style has a significant effect. These ‘person’-related causes can often be symptoms of other issues, though they are often the focus of management training,” Chaudron writes.
He also writes about “‘group’ causes of poor teamwork,” including: people not knowing what work each person is responsible for, communication problems within the group, and “a disconnect between what is expected of the team and what the team wants to/can accomplish.”
A good employee is a good teammate
Here’s how to manage your performance when you don’t like the hand you’ve been dealt in the office.
Do your part to fix communication problems
One of the most common problems with teamwork is communication. While many people bemoan bad team communication, we rarely take ownership of the problem. As a general rule, overcommunicating with teammates will improve things.
A Forbes article shows how to improve a “lack of communication.”
“Low-performing teams typically start with low levels of communication, rising to a central peak, followed by a plateau and final rise as they scramble to meet their targets. Instead, communicate early and often. High-performing teams start with an early peak in communication, and then plateau at a higher overall level than low-performing teams. Overall communication volume is greater and more frequent,” the article says.
Be transparent with colleagues who don’t value your contributions
Celestine Chua writes about this concept in a Business Insider article about dealing coworkers who are hard to work with.
“One thing that has worked for me is to let the person know my intentions behind what I am doing. Sometimes, they are being resistant because they think that you are just being difficult with them. Letting them in on the reason behind your actions and the full background of what is happening will enable them to empathize with your situation. This lets them get them on-board much easier,” Chua writes.
Let your supervisor know about a coworker who’s dropping the ball
This could be a reason why you don’t like your team. A Monster article provides insight on dealing with a coworker who isn’t pulling his or her weight, and explores a potential last resort if things really get out of hand.
You should try talking with your coworker before going to a supervisor, or else you’re undermining them. But if you have that discussion, and it goes nowhere, it’s time to loop in someone who can help.
“You never want to be labeled the workplace tattletale, but some situations are just impossible to live with. If all else fails and you feel an intervention is needed to stop the behavior, tell your boss. If you go this route, make sure you speak in terms of how the behavior is impacting the organization. Reducing creative thinking, impacting productivity and damaging team morale are all reasons for a boss to get involved because it will impact his bottom line,” the article says.
It’s also important to show good judgment in what you raise with a boss. There will always be people at work you don’t like; remember that no one cares. Whining to everyone who will listen that another teammate hates you, with no evidence, is unlikely to be effective— or interesting for a manager to deal with. It’s more likely that they’ll just see you as unable to manage your own relationships and ask you to fix it yourself.
Instead of complaining about others’ personalities, focus on concrete problems that are holding back teamwork, and always connect them back to how they impact measurable results.
What do if you’re on a work team you don’t want to be a member of : Consult others in your field
If nothing at all is working, and you strongly feel you’re on a team that you’re not connecting with, it may be time to explore a transfer or a new job. Before jumping ship and plotting out your stealthy exit, or making a rash decision in the heat of the moment, use your network to figure out just how out of the norm your situation is.
Talk to other colleagues in your field to get a better handle on industry standards (in terms of how their teams function). After consulting a bunch of your peers, compare their situations to yours to see how it stacks up in terms of team dynamics— just be sure to take outside factors into account, like the size of their team/company, allotted resources, and their descriptions of colleagues’ personalities and tendencies.
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