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Salvage A Team Thats Sinking Like A Ship

Not every team will be an immediate success. Most teams require hard work and commitment. If your team isn’t living up to the company’s expectations, don’t give up.

Bottom line: To turn around a team that isn’t making the grade, you should revisit the fundamentals of teamwork, suggests Terry Bragg in the article "How To Turn Around Ineffective Work Teams."

Here are the teamwork basics you should analyze when you’re reworking a failing team:

Define your goals and how you’ll achieve them. This seems like common sense, but it’s easy to get off track. Reevaluate your team’s destination and then make sure everyone understands what steps are necessary to reach it. You might want to create a team charter with clear goals and progress benchmarks, says Bragg.

Create individual responsibility. A team is a group of individuals, so make sure every person on your team understands his role. Hold him responsible for his part and track the progress he’s made. If the team as a whole is failing, individual tracking and reviewing might reveal someone who isn’t holding up his end of the bargain.

Make sure you have everything you need. You can’t build a block tower without blocks. Review the resources -- both materials and manpower -- your team needs to reach its goal. Then identify resources that you’re missing or that are inadequate. This includes important skills. For instance, suppose no one on your team is capable of analyzing your inventory report. You might misinterpret the report and base a crucial piece of your project on incorrect conclusions.

Fix your approach (if it’s broken). Your team’s approach to its work varies depending on company values and ethics. The team might meet casually and take advantage of spontaneous ideas. On the other hand, some teams need to submit rigorous progress reports to the Board of Executives and stick to stringent meeting schedules. However your team works, keep an eye on the approach and be willing to change your methods if they aren’t working, urges Bragg. The process that succeeded in the past might not apply to a new goal or project.

Rile up the troops. Trust and commitment are two essential elements for a successful team, according to Bragg. A team may be performing poorly because team members don’t feel the work is meaningful. There’s also a possibility that teammates are stretched thin -- either they felt forced into being part of the team or they’re on several other teams and can’t give their full attention to any one of them. One way to empower team members is to give them directives and then let them determine how to complete those tasks, says Bragg


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