Richard was a superstar when it came to his work. He always outperformed expectations. He met his deadlines and crushed quotas, and everyone knew him as a top performer. Richard was the ideal candidate to run a one-person business. Richard’s problem was that he wasn’t a one-man business. He worked for a company much larger than that, and oftentimes he had to work in a group setting. This is the aspect of Richard’s career that he liked least and even struggled with.

Does Richard sound like you or someone you know? People can excel in aspects of their work when left alone but aren’t as efficient when it comes to working with a team. Why is this the case?

Most companies are structured in a way that require teamwork and working in groups. A few of the reasons some people struggle more in a team setting than working alone are lack of a common goal, job duties that aren’t clearly defined, non-uniform commitment levels and personality clashes.

From my personal experience, the most successful teams I have been a part of have established their common goal early. The goal doesn’t necessarily have to be stated verbally, but it should be understood by all.

The next step was for all members to determine what job functions need to be completed and who was best skilled to complete them. The team’s common goal should serve as the guiding thought when delegating responsibilities, but it should not lean too heavily on one individual. In a situation with one very skilled individual, her job duties should relate to what will be the most beneficial to serving the common goal and how the team can function best without her expertise in a certain area.

There is no easy way to get every person within a team have the same level of commitment. Here are the best ways I’ve seen to get buy-in from everyone: illustrating what it means for the group to “win,” showing how each person is crucial to the group’s success, and making each person feel like a valuable part of the team.

Even the most successful teams have personality clashes. They can relate to differences in core values, people’s underlying goals or simply to certain traits one person may display that others don’t find admirable. The most successful teams I have been a part of have been able to overcome the individual personality clashes because of the team members’ commitment to the goal of the group over anything else.

Now to You…

What about you? What are the ways you have seen successful teams function? What problems have you seen teams experience and do you have strategies to help safeguard against these problems?

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