From the Docs

Solutions for Creating and Maintaining Effective Teams

One of the most important benefits to having your employees work as a team is the sharing of ideas, knowledge and experience. Working within a team can have additional benefits for both the employee and the organization, such as increased creativity, communication, cooperation and a sense of support. In addition, high-functioning teams tend to experience a greater sense of enjoyment in their work environment, often resulting in increased morale and productivity.

When building a high-functioning team, assign a team leader (TL), ensure the team goal is specific and clear, and if possible, select team members (TMs) who possess many of the following attributes:
• Enjoys working with others toward a common goal
• Flexible, willing to compromise, open to ideas
• Assertive, yet tactful
• Effective in resolving conflict
• Adept at good communication skills

The following are common challenges that may arise within any team.


Possible causes:
1. The TL may need to increase their involvement.
2. The TL may be perceived as weak.
3. A TM might be attempting to take on the role of TL.

Possible solutions:
1. The TL speaks with the subgroup(s) separately to address their concerns. If the concerns are effectively addressed, the subgroups may rejoin the team or the TL might determine that it’s more productive to divide the team into subgroups.
2. The TL has one-on-one meetings with difficult people in the group in order to understand and attempt to address the issue(s), and then the TL decides if these members will be able to effectively rejoin the group.
3. The TL stays involved or increases involvement. If a TM is vying for the TL’s position, the TL should speak with the competing TM individually and try to determine their agenda. If the TM is unwilling to let go of their power struggle, the TL might consider taking the TM off the team.


Possible causes:
1. Poor communication
2. The team goal(s) is unclear
3. Unforeseen barriers to progress

Possible solutions:
1. Ask the team for their opinions regarding barriers to meeting deadlines. (Caution: To limit defensiveness, try not to ask “why” deadlines are not being met.)
2. Speak individually with each team member regarding the productivity issue and collaborate with employees in identifying and removing the barriers.
3. Ask the team to provide you (the manager/supervisor) with regular updates, and make sure the team follows through.


Possible causes:
1. Team solutions might be threatening to individual TMs (e.g., proposed changes in shift, wage, perks, overtime, assignments and work location).
2. TMs have unresolved issues with other TMs.
3. There is one or more difficult people on the team.
4. The TL is not asserting enough control and direction.

Possible solutions:
1. Accept that some conflict is almost inevitable.
2. Determine if the goal is associated with the conflict.
3. The TL addresses the conflict with the individual, with TMs engaging in conflict and/or with the team as a whole (whichever seems most appropriate).
4. The TL must ensure no favoritism is being shown to any of the TMs.

The TL might not possess the skills and abilities necessary for some of the aforementioned recommendations. In these situations, the manager/supervisor will need to employ these solutions, but in a way that doesn’t undermine the TL. Or the manager/supervisor could employ the solutions collaboratively with the TL, thus providing a training opportunity for the TL.

If you would like a consult on team development or team management, contact Psychological Services Bureau (PSB) at (213) 738-3500