Five Common Team Performance Problems

Gerald A. Hutchinson Jr, PhD & Jeff Penley, MS

In our work with management-, functional-, cross-functional-, and project-teams, we have noticed five common functional problems that sabotage a team’s performance:

  1. Inadequate critical-thinking about cause and consequence. Many teams get into a groupthink pattern and do not sufficiently challenge one another to think rigorously or with an eye on innovative solutions. This pattern robs the organization of the potential to make positive change.  Marginal improvements, band-aid solutions, or re-work will waste time and money and create future problems.  Remember the old saying– “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always time to do it again…until there isn’t?”  You can avoid that blunder!
  1. Slowness in Decision-Making. It is not just that decisions are slow…timing itself is not always the issue if the OUTCOME of the decision is worth the wait.  The problem is that decisions take an unnecessarily slow amount of time, and must pass through gatekeepers that do not share urgency or adequate engagement to pass approval.  Speeding decisions along gives opportunity to tackle other challenges.
  1. Mission Creep. Mission creep can mean the goal of the project expands. It can also mean that clarity of what the team is attempting to do is lost or confused, and consequently a project shifts to objectives that are not essential.  The team wastes time (and credibility) because the objective was never clearly stated, and execution to the goal was undisciplined.
  1. Clunky Collaboration. Poor collaboration (aka poor teamwork) often occurs within the team due to ineffective leadership. Another cause of team misalignment is due to insufficient buy-in.  Or, collaboration problems can occur when external team partner’s agendas are not fully understood or aligned with the team goals.  Getting talent to click is a responsibility of the team leader, and must be intentional. It cannot be left to chance or assumed.  NOTE:  There are clear behavioral science methods about how to overcome “clunky collaboration” (aka “dysfunctions”), and we know how to structure behavior to overcome these challenges.
  1. Insufficient Accountability. Getting to “Done!” and moving on to the next problem can often occur due to a lack of keeping people accountable. When accountability for deliverables is not maintained, productivity slips and project completion is delayed, incurring opportunity costs.

These problems (and many others) can be overcome with an agile team-management guidance-system.  We call ours Excellerate™ to mash together Better+Faster.  If you’d like to find out more about how we integrate solutions to these challenges into our system, contact us:  Gerald Hutchinson or Jeff Penley.

Gerald Hutchinson PhD has over 25 years of experience working with hundreds of teams and leaders.  Excellerate™ has been developed on this knowledge-base of what makes good teams work and what conditions make for poor teamwork.

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