When Teamwork Skills Are Lacking, What Do You Do?
I received a call from a potential client who was looking for some facilitated activities around teamwork. His goal was to enhance the teamwork skills of several team members who seemed to prefer working alone. When I asked him why he thought they preferred this and he said, “well they are introverted and you know how introverts are.”
Yes. Yes I do.
Blaming introversion or shyness for teamwork skills that seem to be lacking is an easy route. It’s often wrong, but easy. Introversion, and I’m speaking from authority here as an introvert, is typically not what keeps people from working well in a team environment.
In actuality, when individuals appear to lack teamwork skills, often the problem lies in the environment not the individual. Not always, but often.
Before you start looking at how to enhance teamwork skills in individuals, make sure you are fostering the right teamwork environment. If any of the following things are lacking, you may have found your issue.
Clearly Defined Roles
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that 99% of the time, this is the problem. In a team environment where work has the opportunity to overlap, individuals are not sure how they are supposed to contribute. If individuals do not have clear expectations around how they will contribute they often just stop contributing. Make sure roles are clearly defined and understood by everyone.
Create a Safe Environment
Want people to shut down quickly? Make them feel as though their voice is not heard. That will shut them up. Anytime team members feel their opinion or thoughts are not considered, their participation decline immensely. Ensure that every team member feels they have a safe environment to share ideas or voice concerns. The minute they feel they will be ignored or chastised for voicing their opinion is the minute you lose them as a team member.
Disagreements are bound to happen in a team environment. Ideally all team members would have the ability to work through problems with one another without the need for outside help, but that isn’t always the case. Once disagreements go too far and it is clear that the team members are not going to be able to work through it on their own, intervention must be swift. Letting problems linger hoping they will go away only serves to halt any progress the group could hope of having towards their goal. Leaders must mediate disagreements and ensure everyone can get back on track appropriately.
Creating the right setting for teamwork skills to flourish means more efficiency and effectiveness. It also means even larger tasks can be accomplished. Ensuring the three items above are happening consistently opens the door for better teamwork….even with introverts!
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