Addressing team cohesion
What you need to know:
- I have observed the team; while individuals are good, there is a disconnect in how they work together. I am surprised as this team has been working together for nearly two years, and this disconnect now impacts performance.
Dear Caroline, I have recently transferred departments and been appointed a team leader of 10. The team members are specialists in their field, and our primary role is working with business start-ups. Each specialist area depends on the other, so we contribute to the entire business start-up process. I have observed the team; while individuals are good, there is a disconnect in how they work together. I am surprised as this team has been working together for nearly two years, and this disconnect now impacts performance. As I am new, I recognise that I need to tread carefully, but I have also been advised to address this problem. Monica
Hello Monica, welcome to the world of managing highly skilled professionals. Please do not be alarmed; this is normal and can be addressed. As the new team lead, my advice is to observe and start asking questions so that you can fully appreciate the root cause of the challenge. Remember, team cohesion does not come automatically.
Recall the cycle of forming, norming, storming, performing and adjourning. Please read on the insert reference to appreciate team dynamics https://hr.mit.edu/learning-topics/teams/articles/stages-development. While you understand the psychology of team development, you will also need to take time to understand the different personalities within the team and, more importantly, the team’s history.
This initial work is important because it gives you context. Once you have had the chance to review the above, you may consider having a series of team building sessions, where you facilitate the team to take time out and reflect on what they do and why. It can also be used as a platform where you celebrate success and address some issues within the team. The team must understand that everyone brings talent and is only strong when working together.
The outputs of the team building sessions will result in agreed action steps that they all commit to abide by. This may include having regular team sessions, I would advise that the facilitation of the team is rotated, so each person gets that leadership experience.
You could also consider having different project leaders for various assignments, thus expanding their skills in leading teams. If, when coming out of the tea session, some of the challenges are associated with staff well-being, you will need to raise these with the HR department.
Well-being issues must also be addressed. As we well know, our working environment influences our motivation and engagement. In due course, you may want to introduce team engagement/ staff satisfaction surveys to capture any aspects that may be discussed. Many times new managers want to quickly fix team dysfunctionality by getting rid of people; my advice is to avoid that and look at the root cause of the problem. Good luck
Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team [email protected]