Avoiding Bad Team-Building Behavior
Of all the team-building resources out there, too few are devoted to exploring the errors executives consistently make. In their book The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge, co-authors Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble have compiled a list of seven prevalent team-building pitfalls:
Adopting existing formal definitions of roles and responsibilities. "A new title encourages people to rethink their roles and responsibilities from scratch and to make an explicit effort to explain their roles to others," wrote the authors. "This is exceedingly healthy…."
Reinforcing the dominance of performance engine power centers. "Most organizations have a function that is the power center. In consumer products companies, for example, the marketing function tends to be the most powerful. When creating new subgroups such as dedicated teams, the natural tendency is for the power center to remain the same, even if the need for a shift is obvious."
Assessing performance based on established metrics. The metric that is most meaningful for the company is rarely equally meaningful for the dedicated team.
Failing to create a distinct culture. One major caution: the dedicated team should not claim that it has a uniquely innovative culture. One dedicated team we studied decided that it should be fast-moving, creative, and anti-bureaucratic. Naturally, the company did not appreciate the implication that it was slow, unoriginal, and rigid.
Using existing processes. There is never a situation in which the dedicated team should duplicate a company process.
Succumbing to the "tyranny of conformity." As a cost-saving measure, support functions are often under tremendous pressure to standardize everything. In human resources, finance, and information technology in particular, rigidly enforced standardization can be dangerous to dedicated teams. Leaders who are intent on maximizing efficiency at all costs will make it nearly impossible for a dedicated team to overcome organizational memory. You must insist on being treated as an exception in these areas.
- Having a bias for insiders. How does this still happen? Isn't the value of external voices—with fresh insights and no ties to in-house norms—conventional wisdom at this point? Nope. Too many team builders remain reluctant to hire outsiders. For several reasons:
Sources: "The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Teams," The Build Network