Teamwork is not simple and not common. A well functioning team is powerful and poised for growth. Why do you allow areas of your company to operate with dysfunction? Do you realize the power of synergy you lose? Great teams have accountability, adherence, action, and alliance knit into performance and decisions. To adopt the Four As of Team identify where you are. Executives must lead.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today
were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Steve Jobs
Command and Control: This can be good practice in crisis and creation. But, it does not resemble team. A command and control structure with hierarchical dictates allows for quick obedience. It also promotes mindless action. You had better be ready to lose thoughtful workers. This is great in a battlefield of well defined parameters. It is death when you need mental acuity and engaged creativity.
Laissez Faire: Apathetic management will render apathetic results. How often have you found a manager so afraid of making mistakes that decisions linger? Indecision runs rampant and results wander further off target over time. Many times this is symptomatic of Command and Control structure in the higher hierarchy. Managers freeze because they know every decision is really made in an upper level and they have no authority, just responsibility. And that is a disease, not a management practice. Team? Not on your life. Everyone lives for himself. Finger pointing and blame shifting become survival necessities.
Helicopter Micro Management: Wow. This one is painful for every worker. Authority to make decisions may be released, but any small mistake is noted and put into the brown stamp book for later redemption. This environment breeds anger. Rewards are rare except to the micro manager, who redeems all the good points for her own benefit. There might be a team of workers gelled to mutinous intent. This is common in highly political organizations.
Staff Rules: This dysfunctional team approach is gaining ground in many organizations. Executives, directors, and managers are afraid of the employees. What if they don’t like me and my vision? What if they go somewhere else? What if they file a complaint with HR? What if, what if, and what if cause managers to check in with employees on every decision. This is entitlement mentality and will lower and lower productivity to the level of the most charismatic laggard in the shop. The danger is that managers believe this will improve morale. The exact opposite is true. People thrive on leadership that is decisive, non-political, visionary, supportive, and fair. It is not fair to allow the least productive the same reward as the most productive in a free market economy. The dichotomy of this approach is that executives begin making hidden decisions because it is impossible to please everyone. So really, you are living in Command and Control with a ruse of inclusion.
Courage and Consequence: The best team structure rewards both courage and consequence. There is a reward system for the over achievers. There is a consequence system for the under achievers. It may not be money. It may be getting more training or being included on key work teams or allowance for a flexible schedule or whatever works for the producer. Isn’t that going to be interpreted as “teacher’s pet” activity? Sure. Deal with it. That is the courage part. Courage starts with the executive and director.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. C. S. Lewis
Summary: Identify your team. Where are you? How did you get there? Is it where you want it? In next week’s article I address the As of accountability and adherence that make powerful and productive team. You cannot afford to lag in the first four structures. Neither can you change overnight. I’ll give you solid tips on making transitions built over time and tension and triumph.
COMMON GROUNDS: These tidbits come out of daily consternations, comments, and
concerns of real managers doing what needs done. Executives gain insight.
This article focuses on the Be Responsible triad of the operational pyramid.