Managing a team certainly has its pros and cons. You may have a team of talented, hardworking folks who inspire you constantly and help you grow your business, but there will no doubt be days of hardship that will test your management skills. As your team's fearless leader, it's your job to understand and help your team overcome any problems that arise.
Here are four common problems that plague even the best teams. I hope that by highlighting them you can take action to fix situations and get wayward team members back on track.
Too Many Distractions
These days I interview more and more CEOs who say one of the biggest things keeping their projects delayed isn't conflict, but distraction. There's no denying that workers face ongoing distractions during the day, possibly at a level that hasn't ever existed before in human history. It may be desktop notifications, phone calls, the chime of a Slack conversation on your mobile phone, or any one of a dozen other distractions that will sideline usually hard working employees.
"(Those distractions) create this kind of atrophy of productivity," says Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner, software that helps work teams plan their projects and time. "You really cannot get thoughtful work done in that kind of environment. The best team members are the ones who can really put up those blinders and get big chunks of meeting work done. Then allocate a little bit of time for the odds and ends. But it really requires a lot of focus."
Pearce recommends allocating at least two hours a day without meetings, signing out of apps like Slack, and shutting down push notifications. Try to do some writing, thinking or analysis during that time.
A Team Divided
A healthy variety of opinions is good for progress--until it creates conflict and divides your team. Resolving conflict among your team can be a challenge, as people react to situations in different ways. Whether your team is disagreeing on how to solve a client problem or the temperature of the office, you can use the following three-step process as a basis for managing conflict.
- Acknowledge the Conflict - The worst thing you can do in resolving a conflict is to pretend it doesn't exist. You have to acknowledge a conflict before you can manage and resolve it. Discuss the impact the conflict is having as a team and encourage everyone to cooperate in resolving the issue. It's essential that everyone is open and willing to communicate about the problem at hand.
- Understand the Situation - Once everyone is on board with resolving the conflict, the next step is to understand the underlying issue. This is where it's important to let people express their feelings and understand each employee's stance. Depending on how big the conflict is, it might be helpful to break into smaller groups to discuss and analyze the problem. By laying out all the facts, assumptions and stances, everyone will be more likely to step away from their emotional attachments and look at the situation objectively.
- Reach an Agreement - Now that the entire team better understands each member's reasoning, everyone must decide how to act. By taking facts and assumptions into consideration, you and your team will have an easier time reaching an agreement. If further evaluation is required, make sure action items are clearly laid out in order to resolve the conflict in a timely manner.
A strong team consists of a variety of personality types. This makes for healthy debate that translates into progress for the company. But there are times when you'll get individuals that dominate the room, as well as those who are too shy to contribute at all.
In these situations, it's important to encourage ideas from everybody. If one person is dominating the conversation, compliment him or her on their contributions but be sure to ask for input from other members of the team. Alternatively, if one team member is less inclined to contribute don't call them out, but rather encourage contribution by providing the opportunity for them to speak up and voice their opinions.
Lack of Motivation
There are times when your employees will be unmotivated or don't demonstrate initiative. This can happen for a variety of reasons, so it's essential that you understand why.
Confronting the situation will allow you to solve the problem as oppose to letting it go and potentially getting worse over time. However, doing little things to motivate your team on a daily basis could prevent this problem. The following are powerful tactics you can use to encourage your team to stay motivated so they give each day their all:
- Pay Employees Their Worth
- Provide a Pleasant Work Environment
- Encourage Self-Improvement
- Don't Punish Failure
- Set Clear Goals
A Team United
Although diversity and healthy debate make an effective team, you ultimately want a team that's united in one aspect: Achieving your goals. You'll hit bumps along the way, but that's how you can grow as a leader. And as long as you work to be your team's super hero that resolves conflict and inspires collaboration, you'll motivate them to grow the company each and every day.