The fact is that real teams adapt to challenges flexibly and adequately. Nevertheless, they do not develop smoothly.
Indicators that the team is in crisis include:
- Lack of purpose and identity
- Loss of energy and enthusiasm
- Unconstructive discussions and interpersonal attacks
- Lack of cooperation and mutual trust
- Shifting the focus from the result to the perfection of the implementation of the activities
When these conditions are met, teams are transformed into pseudo-teams. This effectively demoralizes the members and they lose their team affiliation.
Naturally, problem situations are a fact of the activity of the teams, which in some cases can be insurmountable. Reference: “Management and leadership: theories and approaches”, https://www.polyscm.com/management-and-leadership-theories-and-approaches/
The business environment, whether permanent or dynamic, includes barriers that can cause hopelessness.
All potential teams have hierarchical, functional, and individual differences, which if not overcome are a source of problems.
In summary, the main reasons that unequivocally cause problem situations are:
Weak sense of direction
Teams come to a standstill when pursuing inconsistent or ill-defined goals. They lose their identity when different interpretations cannot grow into a common point of view.
This generates confrontation and confusion about the fundamental reason why the team exists. Effective teams overcome confrontation by promoting a high degree of openness among their members.
This quality of the relationship balances conflicting ideas and opinions and stimulates the initiative to work together to achieve common results.
Insufficient empathy between team members
In hopeless teams, interpersonal conflicts and different positions are often interpreted as a lack of empathy on the part of the individual. The team shifts the focus from its goals of excellence and engages in endless group discussions regarding personal styles and interests.
This naturally leads to a lack of trust and respect, which are critical to the mutual responsibility and empathy needed for the effective existence of the team. Reference: “The teams in the modern management”, https://projectmanagers.joomla.com/15-the-teams-in-the-modern-management.html
Critical “cracks” in skills
There is no team to start with the necessary full set of skills. However, it is also naive to claim that without subsistence, a minimum of skills related to its goals can function.
Technical and functional competence is critical in this respect.
External confusion and indifference
Teamwork is not an end in itself. It is a tool for implementing the company’s strategy.
Nevertheless, to some extent, trading companies create some barriers to team development. A serious mistake in this regard is to set contradictory or ambitious sets of requirements.
This is a special category of skills gaps. Effective leaders adapt their work power to specific situations.
In situations of information insufficiency, they take actions with a high degree of risk and uncertainty, which are corrected upon receipt of new information.
Conversely, incompetent leaders prefer not to make decisions and to procrastinate indefinitely in the hope that when new information comes in, they will find the “perfect.”
This behavior often leads to missed opportunities and unrealized benefits. Problem-solving and decision-making skills in situations with a high degree of unpredictability are critical to the leader’s competence.
Methods for solving the problems of the teams in the organization
There is no universal formula in management, applicable to every problem situation, but five key methods can be defined, which in practice if applied simultaneously, achieve maximum effect. Reference: “Problem analysis and goal analysis for infrastructure projects”, https://bvop.org/posts/problem-analysis-goal-analysis/
The first two focus on the basics of the team as a whole, and the other three provide an indirect link and are directly related to team performance. They require adequate information, training, and initiating changes in the team. The methods are as follows:
Revision of the basics
Developing the ability to renew team goals and approaches is a necessary condition for overcoming the symptoms of internal myopia. All teams, especially those at a standstill, need to review their fundamentals based on signals from the outside world to verify and confirm the legitimacy of the mission in the name of which they exist.
Defining intermediate goals with a high degree of specificity
Participation in the process of identifying and setting intermediate goals motivates team members and engages them to be actively involved in their implementation.
This method is particularly adequate when combined with evaluation and giving feedback on the achievement of objectives. Management through intermediate goals is a preventive technique. The team’s efforts are not focused on overcoming the impasse, but on preventing such a situation.
Accumulation of new information
Different perspectives, new information, and facts play a major role in team development.
Teams with highly qualified, flexible, and committed members have a competitive advantage. In practice, they achieve this through continuous training.
This is a method that moves teams in a constructive direction along the curve of team excellence. The effectiveness of the facilitator’s efforts is directly dependent on his ability to develop an adequate attitude in the team members to the company’s mission and the challenges that stand in the way of its success.
Adequate training programs for deadlocks emphasize the need to acquire additional key skills, a common goal, empathy, and clarify the role of the leader.
Change in team members, including the leader
One of the risks of teamwork is that individual differences can grow into a general point of view. This condition is called “group thinking” and is a source of insurmountable problems. Reference: “The groups in the organization and their effectiveness”, https://www.vbprojects.org/the-groups-in-the-organization-and-their-effectiveness/
Teams can learn various techniques to counteract this effect. Some of them are:
- Creating subgroups to explore problem situations independently of the team.
- Analysis of different alternatives for each solution.
- Team leaders refrain from sharing opinions until other members have expressed their views.
- Use creative techniques, such as brainstorming.
Seek independent opinion from external consultants.
- Initiate fundamental changes in the team members in a dead-end, including the leader, if the indicated techniques are not able to solve the problem.
New leaders are usually appointed by senior management. Of course, they are not a panacea, but they are an effective tool when team excellence is in crisis.
The five methods of breaking the deadlock can be initiated by the team’s internal efforts, or they can take the form of management intervention. If implemented adequately, they are at the service of teams at a dead end.
Otherwise, such actions can be interpreted as management interference in teamwork. The reasons in this direction are most often caused by the desire of management for rapid change, which has nothing to do with the specifics of the team’s problems.
Every problem situation is unique
Each problem situation has a specific structure and content, which is why specific decision-making approaches cannot be recommended. All this is determined by the analysis of the situation itself.
The management may consider that it is useful for the team to be at a standstill for some time. This mobilizes all the internal resources of the company to overcome the problem situation.
Real teams grow
Real teams grow and move along the perfection curve based on the experience they accumulate in extreme situations.
Management’s ability to distinguish constructive and energized teams that have the potential to deal with a problem situation from those that are virtually incapable is a matter of managerial qualities.
If the team does not have the inner strength to deal with the impasse, the management must respond adequately with a decision that will satisfy its results.