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Jan 19, 2024 Leslie Beale, PCC, JD

Stormy Seas: Common Challenges in Building Highly Effective Teams

Naomi was ecstatic to have been placed in charge of her company’s new initiative. Leading what could be a game-changing project, the timing couldn’t have been better for her to meet with her mentor, Jon. Over lunch, Naomi excitedly described her assignment, ending with, “And best of all, I’ve been asked to put together a dream team to make this all happen. I can’t wait!”

Jon seized the opportunity to query her further, “So, how will you go about forming and managing this group?”

“I have some folks in mind from different departments,” she answered. “I have a great relationship with all of them, and I’m sure they’ll work well together.”

“Great,” said Jon. “Let’s start there.”

The Truth About Teams

Jon knew that the secret weapon of high-performing organizations doesn’t lie in the latest technology, multiple locations across the globe, or trade secrets passed down for generations. It can be found within their teams.

A recent study by Stanford University revealed that strong teams are more productive by an impressive 50%. This was good news for Naomi. What she didn’t realize, though, is that building a smooth-running team is not for the faint of heart. When solid trust, good communication, and role clarity aren’t present, any hopes for a team that runs like clockwork may end up as clogged machinery.

Building a Foundation of Trust

According to a recent study reported in MIT Sloan Management Review, workers who feel trust in their workplace are a whopping 260% more productive. Even with those statistics, however, trust isn’t a guarantee among teams who have no history of working together. Pre-existing stereotypes and generational differences are just a few of the factors that contribute to a slow-build of trust among team members. Without an intentional effort to build authentic relationships, Naomi may discover that their progress is sluggish because her team members are holding their cards close to their chest.

Fostering Effective Communication

Effective communication in the workplace cannot be underestimated, with studies showing that employee retention is increased 4.5 times when a team has mastered collaboration and communication. Among teams who lack a foundation of time and experience working together, however, good communication may not come quickly… or easily. Differing personalities, backgrounds, and work styles create an environment vulnerable to misunderstandings, and these need to be identified and absorbed before a new team can gain traction. In Naomi’s case, her familiarity and existing relationships with each team member is probably not enough.

Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities

When an organization neglects to identify the scope of each employee’s work, it’s a recipe for confusion and conflict; according to McKinsey & Company’s The State of Organizations 2023 report, 40% of employees stated inefficiency was a result of fuzzy roles and responsibilities.

Team members who don’t understand their duties are unable to prepare. They are unsure which tasks should be prioritized, and can’t discern how they fit into their company’s future. To keep some team members from taking on too much, and others not enough, it’s imperative that Naomi share each employee’s duties with the entire team, and monitor everyone’s progress going forward.

An Investment on the Front End Leads to Positive Change

“If you’re serious about building highly effective teams you can expect to encounter these challenges, and others,” Jon advised Naomi as they finished their lunch.

“By nurturing trust, promoting strong communication, and clarifying responsibilities, you’ll empower your group to achieve results that are not only successful, but trouble-free,” he continued. “Thanks to your deliberate actions, you and your team will be able to quickly, and fully, enjoy the pivotal change that you’ll make for your company.”

Do you want to give your new team the solid start they need to succeed? Do you have an existing team with new faces? We’re here to help. And if you’re looking to join a key group of successful leaders who are facing similar challenges, apply for an invitation to our Profusion Leaders Forum today.

Published by Leslie Beale, PCC, JD January 19, 2024
Leslie Beale, PCC, JD