What is the most frequent complaint leaders have about their leadership team members?If you guessed lack of loyalty and support then you hit the the nail on the head. It is hard to build a team when each team member is only looking out for their own interests and department needs rather than taking the more collaborative approach of addressing the team’s organizational goals. 

What gets in the way? 

How a team communicates (with, among, around and about each other) can either build or destroy relationships.  

  • It is not uncommon for people who work in nearby cubicles to email issues and problems to each other.  When there is a high propensity for misunderstanding, email can heighten and escalate problems rather than solve them.
  • Communication that shows a lack of respect erodes team effectiveness.  Interrupting, yelling, name-calling, eye rolling or body language – all contribute to the breakdown of good teamwork. 
  • When snarking (humorous barbs) is permitted, it compromises relationships.  Sarcasm, even when done with humor, creates an unsafe space for people to disagree and deal with conflict.  Unknowingly, snarking drives some team members underground and inhibits the free exchange of ideas.
  • Finally, CPA (continuous partial attention) can distract a team from achieving its high performance goals.  CPA is present when team members are dividing their attention between laptops, PDAs, side conversation and the meeting agenda.  Even when someone is taking notes legitimately on their laptop, it can keep them from fully participating and makes some skeptics wonder what they are really working on.

 What can you do? 

  • Get your team back on track by creating team ground rules or norms. Team members have expectations of each other. When given a chance to craft their own “bylaws” about team expectations and behaviors, it gets everyone on the same page. 
  • Hold team member accountable for agreed-upon norms. Make it a habit to check in regularly to see how the team thinks it is doing and if it is staying on course.