Working in any industry is difficult, because business problems are vast and varied. Competition forces companies to improve constantly and technological advancement means that there are always better ways to do things.
These are the challenges that we should be striving to overcome. Too often, leaders instead find themselves consumed by solving team issues rather than business problems.
It’s Easy to Become Preoccupied With Solving Team Issues, Thinking That It’s Real Work
Team issues are wide-ranging. There is no doubt that assembling people and getting them to work together productively is a challenge in itself. You may feel as if you’re constantly busy and stressed.
If you feel stressed, is it because you are trying to solve a real business challenge and move your team or business forward, or are you simply tearing your hair out because of team issues?
Learn More: Seeing Performance Issues In Your Team? Try These Things.
Team Issues Make Solving Real Business Problems Even Harder
If you do have significant team issues, you can guarantee that it’s making things harder than it should be. Team issues distract your team from its real purpose, which is probably to make and sell products, serve customers or assist other teams within your business.
In the day to day working grind, it’s easy to lose focus on where your focus should be. Time spent dealing with unhappy team members or dysfunctional behaviour is time *not* spent on doing what you should be doing.
While some team issues are going to occur from time to time, if you find this is where you spend most of your week, this is a problem.
Signs That You’re Not *Really* Solving Your Team Issues
You can’t afford to be spending your time constantly dealing with team issues. Here are the signs that your team is wasting too much time on team issues, as opposed to doing real work.
1. You Focus All Your Time On Some Individual Team Members
If you notice that you are spending more time with certain individuals than others during your week, this could be a bad sign. As a leader, of course you should be trying to engage with your whole team.
However, if you find that you spend significantly more time with one employee listening to complaints, discussing issues or making them feel better, then this highlights a problem. Some workplaces have team members that need far more support than others, and this can be a drain on your time and your ability to support other team members.
You can’t continue to keep this up.
Learn More: 6 Steps to Deal With Behaviour Issues In Your Team.
2. Strong Team Members Pick Up the Slack of Other Employees
Not everybody has the same level of skill. Therefore it’s reasonable for the stronger players in your team to help out the others from time to time. However, if you find that some team members are constantly using your strong players as a crutch for their own shortcomings, you may have a problem.
This can occur when a team member is in the wrong role. That is, they don’t have the right skills to do their job properly, so they constantly lean on others for help.
This means that effectively two people are doing the work of one role. Not to mention that it can be extremely distracting and frustrating for the people who are pulled in to help.
3. Team Members Spend Time On Rework, or Waiting On People
The worst thing your team members can do is redo work that has already been done. The second worst is being idle, waiting because someone else hasn’t finished their work yet. Both of these acts cause immense frustration within a team and destroy productivity.
Often these problems can be put down to poor communication. If people don’t understand what they need to be doing, or understand when they need to be finished, this is a big problem. If your team is designed in such a way that there is a bottleneck that is always holding things up, then you need to address this too.
Learn More: Do You Have An Effective Team, or Are You Focused on Busywork?
4. Frustration Levels Are Sky High
If you notice your team consistently complaining about the performance of one team member, or experiencing emotional outbursts from frustration, it’s time to do something about it.
High levels of frustration are damaging and will result in a dramatic loss of productivity and motivation. If these team issues go unresolved, you could find yourself with a significant problem as your team doesn’t feel that you’ve tried to address the issue.
Learn More: Essential Ways to Deal With Frustration in the Workplace.
5. You Spend Too Much Time On Damage Control
Damage control is a terrible waste of time. Your team has delivered something, and now you need to deal with the fallout. If you find yourself consistently dealing with fallout after a major deadline or milestone, this is a sure sign of a problem.
Often damage control results from rushed work and poor or inadequate planning. Certain team members may feel that when they are busy being reactive and fire-fighting issues, they are actually achieving something. If you could have avoided the issues, then this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Damage control activities are usually unnecessary activities that could have been avoided with proper analysis and planning.
However, some people have the opinion that when you aren’t actually “doing” the work, you’re wasting time. In some organisations, people regard planning as a luxurious overhead. However, if you don’t want to spend too much time in damage control mode, it’s worth getting serious about it.
Learn More: Thoughtful Leader Podcast #58: Why Leaders Should Do More Planning (and Why They Don’t).
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Is your team swamped by constant team issues? How are you going to handle it? Share your experience with the Thoughtful Leaders out there by leaving a comment below!
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