A Team Commitment Issue: How Could This Have Been Prevented?
From Many Cultures One Team: Build Your Cultural Repertoire, by Catherine Mercer Bing
Here is an example of a team that has serious challenges:
You are a senior internal or external consultant specializing in creating effective team interventions. A client comes to you and during the conversation asks for team building training for members of a globally disbursed technology team. The client is convinced that the members of the team are not committed to the work of the team even though the outcomes are very important to the success of that division of the company. He points to missed milestone deliverables and a lack of urgency about meeting deadlines.
In a conversation to uncover examples of the problems on the team, the client writes, “…broadly speaking we have seen the following:
- Lack of motivation/initiative
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of ability to work independently
- Lack of taking ownership
- Lack of domain knowledge
- Inadequate technology skills"
But in discussions with the team members, they believe that the team leader is not committed to the success of the team. They complain that the team leader:
- Is not keeping team members informed of project updates
- Is not available during their work hours because they are not located all in the same time zone
- Gives interesting assignments to those employees co-located with the team leader
- Has never visited their site even though their section was acquired over five years ago.
In the above example, the team requires more than just team building and consulting analysis; it also requires human process expertise and understanding of the impact that culture has on workplace behaviors. The example demonstrates only some of complexities that teams face. A variety of factors negatively impact this team’s success. They include, but are not limited to:
- Remote selection practices (dependence on information about specific engineering degrees on resumes while not knowing which university degrees actually prepare remote employees with “adequate technical skills”)
- Organizational policies that limited travel to remote locations
- Misunderstanding of the leadership needs of the employees (for example, how much context and specific directions to give them when delegating)
- Lack of appreciation for the needs of the employees to have more accessibility to the remote supervisor
- Limited foresight as to the impact both on employee development and employee motivation when interesting assignments are distributed.
Stay tuned for more excerpts from Many Cultures One Team: Build Your Cultural Repertoire, a new book on teams by Catherine Mercer Bing. Future blogs will provide examples of team issues and ask readers to comment on what is happening and to discuss possible mitigations. We hope you join the group of readers/responders.
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