When you hear the term self-directed work teams does a chill run up your spine while visions of chaos and anarchy dance in your head? Or do visions of freedom, doing things your way, and finally being heard give you a euphoric, light headed feeling? Or do you feel a mix of these feelings? There are some who think that self-directed teams are the new kid on the block who just wants to flex his muscles and cause trouble. Self-directed teams have been playing in your neighbor’s back yard for years.
More and more organizations are relying on teams to get work completed and completed more quickly. The reliance on teams means that organizations are becoming less hierarchical and that management is moving further and further away from the old control and command management style, even in the C-Suite. Further, managers are developing more of a matrix set of skills. All of this means that organizations are becoming more agile.
Agility brings about more change and brings it more often. A more agile operation forces teams to throw out staid project management ideas. The team concentrates on the few items or tasks that are less likely to change by the time the team can work on them. This in turn, helps team members embrace change. One source suggests, “people should be happy to learn things that alter their direction, even late in the development process.” On the other hand, creating agile teams does involve some planning.
“There are things known and there are things unknown,
and in between are the doors of perception.”
~~ Aldous Huxley, British Author 1894-1963
Understanding others can open doors to better communication, cooperation, and empathy. Empathy comes from one of the five dimensions of Emotional Intelligence and the external component of Emotional Quotient – Social Awareness. Having empathy makes us better people. But can we truly “walk a mile in another person’s shoes?” Can we truly understand another person’s behaviors, thoughts, feelings, motivators, and mental states?
People are an organization’s greatest asset. These same people can also be the source of some of your greatest frustrations including conflict. You can read about some of the most common types of conflicts here. In addition, conflict can be costly.
An article by Helmut Buss suggests that these costs are often unmanaged as many organizations see them as being unmeasurable, part of the cost of doing business, or fail to realize how conflict adds to costs. Here are some ways Mr. Buss suggests that conflict can eat into your profits.
Executives and CEOs make many decisions every day. It is impossible to give each of those decisions any deep analytical attention. We make some decisions under stressful conditions. We make other decisions with no real precedent as a guideline. We make other decisions because someone “wants it done that way.” Complicating decision making even further is the fact that we all make decisions with both logic and bias – even strategic decisions. Sometimes a decision has so much input that we’re not even sure what we were trying to solve in the first place. Oftentimes, it’s at this point that inaction rings the death knell for that issue and no decision comes forth. Is there a better way to make decisions?
A team is a team, right? All teams share certain traits, skill sets, working in tandem, and the fact that they have a job to do and they should do it well, and get along while they’re doing it. Are executive teams any different? Well yes and no, maybe, and it depends.
It’s obvious that the executive team has more riding on its decisions and that it serves as a role model for the rest of the teams in the organization. Or maybe it should be obvious. It’s not always clear that the executive team sees itself in this light. In fact, executive teams are often not on the same page when it comes to strategic plans or goals. In fact, according to one study, CEOs see the executive team as performing well. The team, not so much as over 50% of non-CEOs think the executive team is performing poorly. So much for performing like a team.
Often in this blog topics center around hiring the right person. But once on board, selecting the right people for teams is just as important. While you want to give the makeup of the larger team serious consideration, the makeup of work teams can be critical. In other words, teamwork is where the rubber meets the road.
The reason for this is that in the larger organizational team the bigger picture may be the focus in terms of theories, strategies, and even brainstorming. While in smaller or work teams, the work is the dissecting, organizing, testing, and implementation of those theories, strategies, and innovative ideas.
The point is that for a group of people we call teams to be able to work together, the right chemistry of personalities, skills, talents, and attributes must come together much like an orchestra plays in harmony by delivering the right notes, at the right level, at the right time. Notice I didn’t say without conflict.
We all can have our moments. Moments when we are happy, sad, miffed, and difficult. If an employee who usually exhibits relatively happy and cooperative behavior and suddenly or unexpectedly shifts behaviors for the worst, then it’s probably due to some out of the ordinary happenstance. This employee may need some time off or require services such as a counselor or legal advice that is outside our skill set as managers. It’s those employees who exhibit consistently difficult behavior that are the issue.
These employees try our patience and emotions. However, patience and controlling our emotions are of paramount necessity to help handle these trying people. This is increasingly difficult to pull off when dealing with these types of behaviors is a daily occurrence. Let’s look at some of the causes and cures of these difficult personalities.