DiBona & Associates
DiBona & Associates

Why Teams Struggle and How to Better Manage Your Team

07.07.22 03:00 PM By Noel DiBona

We work in a world of teams.

The importance of teams in business today is undeniable. We rely on teams more than ever before. Think about your day-to-day communications – meetings, phone calls, emails, and instant messaging. We are in continuous communication with our teammates all day.

Teams have caused more complications as they have become more complex, span geographies, and are more remote. Navigating relationships between teams and within teams is more difficult today. The lack of critical interpersonal skills is more evident than ever in today’s workplace.

How many types of teams do you work with in your current position? Think about departmental teams, project teams, cross-functional teams, management teams, global teams, and matrix teams. Teams are everywhere!

The reality of teamwork in 2022.
A recent Wiley Study based on insights from over 20,000 employees highlights the following grim statistics:
      • No trust with team members: Nearly 4 in 5 people reports that their team members are typically not willing to acknowledge their weaknesses to one another, which highlights the pervasive lack of vulnerability-based trust throughout the workplace.
      • No commitment to decisions: More than half of teams usually leave meetings without everyone committing to agreed-upon decisions. That means employees will likely struggle to find meaning or motivation in their work, and the team’s results will suffer.
      • No accountability for poor results: When a team fails to achieve its collective goals, roughly 3 in 5 people report that their team members often refuse to take personal responsibility to improve their team’s performance in the future. An unwillingness to examine errs and the opportunity for improvement—or, worse, blaming coworkers for problems—is a recipe for mediocre team performance.

The “people tax” leaders pay, and its financial impact is astonishing.
Poor productivity and toxic work culture abounds in many organizations. This is the “people tax” leaders pay in terms of poor productivity and excessive turnover. 

On average, employees spend two full months each year cleaning up the messes created by ineffective teamwork. Productivity nosedives. 

This translates to more stress and the culture becomes more toxic leading to more turnover. In fact, the Wiley Study has shown that 42% of employees leave their jobs due to bad team experiences.

How do we reverse the tide of dysfunctional teams?
The work performed in any business is defined by the Management Operating System and the Human System. One without the other leads to poor business performance. A thriving business requires both.

And teams are the foundation of the Human System. Unfortunately, leaders invest inordinate amounts of time on the process and technology to support a viable Management Operating System while commonly overlooking the Human System. Hence, leaders pay a stiff penalty in “people tax.”

We can reverse the tide of dysfunctional teams by addressing the lack of trust, commitment, and accountability.

Our solution to eliminate dysfunction and build highly performing teams.
Step #1: Believe in yourself as a leader and lead the necessary change. All too often, leaders resign themselves to untenable situations caused by toxic culture, bickering teammates, a sense of doom. Leader’s lead, they recognize the issues at hand and act. Ignoring the problem exists or failure to act once recognized is a leader’s biggest challenge. 

Step #2: Define the case for change in financial terms for your area of responsibility. Frequently we find the “people tax” from team dysfunction is a six- or seven-digit financial impact. Think about the impact to your bottom line. 

Step #3: Get professional help. You need to use tools and methods that are designed to fix team dysfunction. You can read all the latest books, go to the latest seminars, but until you determine exactly where the gaps are and how to address them, you are just wasting precious time. Face it, you wouldn’t have this problem in the first place if you already had all the answers. Unfortunately, we know this to be true because the vast majority of our clients come to us after their problems have become unbearable. Don’t wait!

Step #4: Rally your team. Have a sit down with your team and explain your concerns. Open up the dialogue and begin to instill greater levels of accountability. Remember, they want their leader to lead. Often times, teams will embrace a leader’s case for change. It is a good opportunity to get their thoughts and a chance for them to be part of the solution. This will help you gain allies and more momentum.