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How to Guarantee a Bad Team?

How to Guarantee a Bad Team?

When a team fails – are team members responsible?

Cristiano Ronaldo is known as one of the best soccer players in the world. However, following his team’s (Real Madrid) disappointing performance in the 2015/16 season, he famously said during an interview,[1]

“If everyone else was at my level maybe we would be top of the table.”

    Realizing that this probably sounded a little arrogant, he later explained that he didn’t mean to blame his teammates.

    Even if Ronaldo didn’t intend to blame his teammates, lots of people, including team leaders do say something like that and think that team members are the ones responsible for failures. But is it really so?

    Here’s another example. This time from the world of basketball. The Los Angeles Lakers won three straight NBA championships from 2000–2002, but their fortunes faded shortly after that. The reason? Well, it certainly wasn’t the lack of talented players and coaches. Instead, it was the fact that the team suffered from poor leadership, which led to the players becoming frustrated and conflicted.[2]

    As I’ll soon show, when harmony is missing from a team, failure is usually not far around the corner.

    The True Reason Why a Team Fails

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      There are several common reasons why teams fail.

      Lack of a clear purpose or goal. 

      When a team does not know what to accomplish or what is expected, the team members will be unmotivated to move forward. And worse still, many of the team members will find the uncertainty scary and unsettling. Clearly, this is not the atmosphere needed to take a team to the top.

      For example, imagine if a team leader told his team members not to worry about achieving any goals. While day-to-day work might continue, it’s highly unlikely that the team will achieve anything groundbreaking or worthwhile.

      Lack of clear guidelines or instructions.

      Having a goal to aim for is essential, but equally, it’s vital that team members have definite guidelines or instructions to follow. Without these, the team won’t know how to work together – or what to do to improve.

      Think of a production line in a factory. If the production line workers don’t understand what they need to do, then the line will soon break down.

        Lack of planning.

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        Without specific action plans and deadlines that are possible to achieve, a team may be unable to stretch to their full potential.

        For instance, a successful marketing team will follow a strict marketing plan. This will include specific dates for things such as social media campaigns and press releases. A marketing team that has no plan, will be weak and ineffectual.

        Lack of encouragement.

        Encouragement is the vital energy that keeps teams enthusiastic and continuously moving forward. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve had a negative, criticizing manager. No doubt, you just wanted to leave your job. And I bet you certainly weren’t motivated.

        Conversely, think about a time when you had a manager who was always encouraging and positive towards you. Even if you didn’t like the role much, you most likely worked well as you wanted to please your manager.

          So, what happens to a team that follows one or more of the four negatives above?

          The first thing that occurs is that a consistently low standard of quality will be output by the team. There will also be an environment that fosters lazy or passive team members. (In other words, team members who don’t make any effort to improve themselves or the team.)

          The team will also be likely to deny their responsibilities. For example, if they demonstrate poor performance – or even make mistakes – they’ll look for excuses.

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            A team that doesn’t work on the same page and isn’t motivated will stay the way the are: at the bottom, and failing to ever improve.

            There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Team

            All the above things that a team lacks – are things that good leadership can help avoid.

              You may have heard the expression that “there are no bad students, only bad teachers.” Well, in my experience, it’s exactly the same with teams. There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

              Team leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems.

              A team can only deliver exceptional performance if their leader ensures they work harmoniously together towards a focused goal and with increasingly high standards of performance.

              Get Back on the Road to Success

              Okay, you’ve successfully ploughed through the negatives. Well done! Let’s now look at some concrete steps you can take to get your team working to their full potential.

              1. Set clear directions and goals

              Don’t just introduce long-term goals which seem too far away for the team to visualize the end results. Instead, have immediate and short-term goals so there’ll be small milestones to achieve, step-by-step before reaching the primary goals. When these small steps are added up together – the team will find they’re achieving some great stuff!

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              Let me give you an example. Let’s say an upcoming pop band wants to record an album. Unfortunately, they don’t have any budget or any songs of their own. In a situation like this, an album will probably remain a distant dream. However, if the band were to break down their goal into small steps, they would be sure to be encouraged by their initial successes. (These might be writing their first song, or saving enough money to book a recording studio.)

              2. Ensure the team know what is expected of them

              A team leader must ensure that team members do not slip into substandard performance and start to make this their new standard. In order to avoid this, the team leader will need to make it clear that there will be consequences for team members who don’t meet the required standards.

              This is not to say that the team leader should act like a dictator. As I’ve mentioned above, this management style will kill the motivation of team members. Instead, through performance appraisals and specific goals, a team leader can work with his team to make sure they stay on track. Team members who don’t make the grade, will most likely need more training and encouragement. Of course, if this fails, then it may be time for the team leader to suggest to the team member that they might be better off in another role, team – or company!

              3. Team leaders must always strive to improve

              Dynamic and successful teams must continuously review their performance to help identify weaknesses – and to find ways to overcome them. They must also find out their strengths – and enhance and make the best use of them.

              It’s obvious that a team leader must lead the way with the above performance reviews.

              Imagine an ambitious CEO of a tech startup. They have great vision and big, impressive goals. However, they lack one key leadership characteristic: they don’t know how to help teams within the company to continuously improve. A leadership failure like this can be fatal to a company’s success. Fortunately, even if the CEO can’t lead the teams in this way, a strong team leader could be brought in to oversee the workings and performance of the company’s teams.

              Leading the Way

              Great teams always have great leaders. And a great leader will understand that acknowledgement of failure and ownership of problems are key to a winning team. They won’t blame team members for failure – but instead, will always believe that the buck stops with themselves.

              Next time you come across a bad team, take a close look at their leader. You’ll most likely find that they’re failing to lead their team properly. Conversely, the next time you come across a successful team, take a close look at their leader. You’ll almost definitely find a purposeful person, who leads their team by example.

              Whether you’re a team leader or a team member, try adopting the tips in this article. I’m sure you’ll find that they’ll lead to increased productivity, achievements and overall team satisfaction.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Last Updated on October 22, 2020

              How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

              How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

              Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

              Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

              1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

              The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

              Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

              For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

              The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

              2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

              Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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              As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

              Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

              3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

              Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

              When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

                This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

                We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

                Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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                When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

                Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

                4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

                Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

                For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

                Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

                5. Make Decisions

                For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

                If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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                If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

                Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

                I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

                He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

                This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

                The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

                6. Take Some Form of Action

                Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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                The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

                It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

                Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

                When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

                The Bottom Line

                It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

                Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

                When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

                More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

                Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

                Reference

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