From athletic teams to small businesses, there has been article after article and book after book written about why groups fail and and how not to fall into the same traps as those who have not made it. Rather than follow that trend, which usually involves explanations that are way too long for the reader and deal with mind-numbing minutia, we wanted to streamline these conversations and give you three short but specific ways that organizations fail and how you can be one a group that thrives.
First, GROUPS THAT FAIL DON'T EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE
Assuming that those within your organization know all the time what is going on is almost always a sure fire recipe for disaster. A breakdown in communication is at the root of nearly all team failures. And remember that we said its about communicating effectively. This does not mean you scream, it does not mean that you don't talk because you are afraid to hurt someones feelings. Communicating the right way means that you are always making sure that your team is on the right page in a way that best gets your message across. From weekly conference calls, to email wrap-ups, to 1:1 meetings, these should all take place while at the same time making sure that you as a leader are open to feedback and criticism.
Second, GROUPS THAT FAIL HAVE LEADERS THAT ARE NOT EMPATHETIC
As we have said a lot on our blogs, self-awareness could not be more important - especially if you are in a leadership position. Sadly, as leaders move up the ladder of success, they tend to become less self-aware, losing the empathetic view that they had when they were not in such a position of power. Teams fail with their leaders become totally disconnected with those who are doing the day-to-day grunt work. Not everyone may be as hard a worker as you, as smart as you, or came from where you came from. The more that you look at things from a perspective of those who are dealing with the customer, or doing the work on the field, then the better you are going to be.
Third, GROUPS FAIL WITH TEAMMATES DON'T HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE
I hate to tell all of you leaders this, but what the boss or the coach says can only go so far. They are there to set the tone and the standards for the group, but it is the people on the ground or the athletes on the field that needs to hold each other accountable each day in order to make things more successful. If a player misses an assignment, obviously the coach is going to be upset - and will tell them so. However what is more effective is when the players on the field tell the person who made the mistake how they feel. They see them each day, they stay with them in the dorms or while traveling, they are more connected to one another. When people with closer social ties hold each other accountable, that is when your group can really start to succeed.
This is much easier said than done. But, the more that you talk to your people, look at things from an empathetic point of view, and get your team members to hold each other accountable, then you will start not just seeing better team cohesion, but a better atmosphere where people can learn, grow, and become a more effective group.