Seven Ways To Overcome An Imploding Team

pic for imploding team

Have you checked out the general health of your team lately? Does it seem that team members are dragging and projects aren’t as vibrant as they use to be? Maybe there are more bottlenecks popping up preventing a dynamic flow of information. Are some team members very engaged while others never step up to take on new responsibilities?

In some of my recent leadership workshops leaders shared that they are facing some steep hurdles that are derailing team performance and growth. When we first began to identify what might be causing some of these imbalances, it was easy to just blame others for not caring. But as we delved deeper real issues began to emerge that had less to do with pointing fingers and more to do with missing elements of team success.

Here are seven ways leaders can overcome an imploding team:

1. CONDUCT AN HONEST ASSESSMENT

First things first. Ask yourself and your team members, why the team is not as cohesive as it could be. Try to identify what factors are preventing the team from running as smoothly as it once did. A good way to begin this discussion is to invite the team to a “lunch and share”, explaining that it feels like the right time to catch up and hear how things are going.

2. VISUALIZE WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE

Take out those flip charts and easels and have team members draw out what a high performing team would look like. This is a great exercise in using symbols, pictures, mottos and any shapes to bring out the best in everyone. For example, an image of a bridge connecting different parts of the team may be an indication of the need to be more interconnected. Give it a try!

3. BRAINSTORM POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS WITH THE TEAM

Based on what the assessment turns out and what the visuals look like, begin an old fashioned brainstorming session of possible solutions.

  • Let the ideas flow with no judgment
  • Encourage creative strategies
  • Listen for the real message
  • Stay open-minded and willing to see different perspectives

4. CREATE A CLEAR MAP WITH DIRECTIONS

Using the visuals and the solutions, define a clear path forward for the team. Develop the big picture that will stay in the forefront of every decision and action. Make sure everyone is clear on the choice and has some buy-in.

5. BREAKDOWN INTO MINI STEPS

Things rarely get done without looking at the individual action steps needed to reach any goal. Decide what tasks are critical and who will be responsible for each. Remember that people want to feel valuable so play to their strengths and ask them what they want to focus on.

6. BUILD IN A BACK-UP

Always prepare for an obstacle or a possible change. Although a team may want to follow a certain choice, it may not always work out. That doesn’t mean the team is a failure, it means that the team needs to be agile and willing to pivot. If the team members want more coaching sessions to grow, it may be necessary to conduct them at different times when the workflow is lighter. Just because coaching sessions can’t take place when they were originally planned, doesn’t mean they should be abandoned.

7. PLAN FOR TONS OF FEEDBACK

Whatever road the team chooses to follow, be open to hearing about the good, the bad and the ugly. Be a team that welcomes constructive and honest feedback and willing to act on that important information.

How have you overcome an imploding team? How have you energized a team in need of help?

(Image credit: Pixabay)

 

 

8 thoughts on “Seven Ways To Overcome An Imploding Team

  1. These are great tips, Terri! I loved them all. Creating honest feedback on what is, and what isn’t working, is so hard because it is the rare team member who can accurately identify their own contribution to the problem. I was in an exercise where people wrote down what they perceived as issues that were leading to a less than ideal team and then the facilitator read them out loud…it depersonalized the message so that people did not feel attacked. It made it easier to talk about issues without talking about “people.”

  2. Terri,

    This is a great guide to help leaders who likely feel helpless. The key is that you fix an imploding team with the team – not by the sheer force of your awesome leadership. Thanks for demystifying the process and making it do-able for so many who need to implement starting today.

    Alli

  3. It is difficult to share with team members the truth about ways to improve and grow without making it personal. What can help is opening up about ways to take actions that may lead to different outcomes. Sometimes all it takes is rolling out a lesson about a mistake we made or a misstep that stayed with us for future decisions.

    Thanks LaRae for your great points!

  4. I agree Alli that when a team is not performing at the highest level they could, it takes a discussion and soul searching of the entire team to make any significant changes. A leader cannot dictate what should be done. A leader needs to empower each member to lead by sharing their ideas and suggestions of ways to move the team forward.

    Thanks as always Alli!

  5. Hi Terri,

    A great piece. As I read it, I reflected on the imploding dysfunctional team I found myself in after an acquisition. With so much M&A activity today, leaders need to understand the power in the 7 ways you have highlighted here.

    One important thing your article points out is that every voice in the system (team) should have an opportunity to be heard. 1, 2 and 3 help to do that in different and effective ways.

    If only the leader I worked for after the acquisition could have tapped into your expertise …. !

    Terri

  6. Thanks Terri! Your addition about making sure every voice is heard on the team is a terrific one! Imploding teams can’t turn around successfully without sitting down with the members and sharing what went wrong and how to fix it. Different perspectives are critical and team members are wise when they keep an open mind and listen strategically to each person’s opinion and suggestion.

    Thanks so much for adding to the conversation!

  7. Terri – Have you seen the movie Remember The Titans? It is the true story of a newly appointed African-American football coach and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit.

    At camp the coach does an amazing job of forcing team members to get to know each other until the team finally begins to embrace and enjoy each other. However, once the team is back in town the pressure from their families and the community begin to pull them apart again. So the team calls a meeting without telling their coaches. And they make the decision to stand together and not to be divided. That choice gives the community a vision of what is possible, and becomes a catalyst for the community to come together. (Not to mention that they have an amazing season!)

  8. I haven’t seen the movie but have heard wonderful things about it. I definitely will check it out.

    Love the idea of: “They make the decision to stand together and not to be divided. That choice gives the community a vision of what is possible, and becomes a catalyst for the community to come together.” So powerful!

    Thanks for sharing with us Chery!

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