Even the greatest army cannot fight the enemy and hope to win with infighting prevailing. For a great machinery to work smoothly all of its components need to be in perfect shape and rolling. Similarly, for a leader to build a winning team, clearing obstacles within the team should be the first objective to deal with. The procedure is the same for both budding leaders with their first team, and a seasoned one who moves on to a new role to work with a new team. This is the foundation process for both the leader and his/her team, for challenging times ahead in the future. For the team, it provides a first glimpse of their new leader’s problem solving capabilities.
After the formal introduction, and post warming up with the team, leaders should possess a keen eye for detail so as to identify the following behavioral patterns:
· Any particular individual who is not fitting into the team quite well and is a cause of concern for the entire team.
· A couple of individuals whose constant rifts are disturbing the team’s spirit.
· A strong group formation within the team who consider themselves a ‘team within the team’
· Team being virtually divided in two sub groups who are at loggerheads constantly.
Few tips to come up to these conclusions are by observing the way their current seating arrangements are, or the way they respond to in the team meeting, who is saying what and who else is backing them up etc. If the indication/s is not very clear you could have a one to one meeting to determine. Making notes of these observations can be very helpful. The problem area once identified should be addressed to without any further delay.
Discussion/s with the individual/s identified as responsible should be done strictly on a one to one basis. In situations like these, it is recommended not to get into group discussions, as people will tend to get defensive and won’t be helpful. People are different in a one to one discussion rather than in a group; probably they see it as an opportunity to open up and are willing to be honest in such discussions. Most of you who have had similar prior experiences will agree on this one.
Now coming to the most important aspect, the resolution of the problem, this may consist of different steps /methods. However, it should certainly cover the following:
· Active listening to their problem/s; their version of the issue.
· Confirmation from you that you have understood their point.
· Helping them understand the benefits for everyone functioning as a team.
· Identify the actual concern.
· Ask them for a solution to a way ahead. (suggest here) Identify a solution (involving both parties).
· Assurance of help from your end to help them through the situation.
· Follow up to check if the solution is being adhered to.
This advice may seem as a lengthy process and a time consuming one, so is the foundation of any structure – especially structures based on trust. This way you will not only overcome your first big obstacle, but also set an example to your team, of the optimistic approach towards problem solving. Also, issues resolved using this methodology stay resolved for a really long time.
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