Team tension

Every executive is thrilled to be working on a big project. Initially everything goes well with your team backing you to the hilt but suddenly things turn sour. What might start off as a small difference of opinion between team members blows into a major hassle. Tempers flay and everyone is filled with negativity. It is a case of team tension.

The team tension arises because different team members bring varied experience, training and points of view to their work. So, how does one identify and solve the situation?

Recognize the symptoms:

* Team members repeat ideas or points but no one seems to suggest anything new.
* Discussions are heated and arguments ensure.
* Team remembers start work on their ideas without informing others
* Some of them threaten to quit or refuse to come to an agreement.
* Team members use documentation for very little matter. They take everything in writing though documentation is useful it’s doesn’t really solve unresolved differences.

Solving it:

Acknowledge it. The first step towards solving team tension is to acknowledge it. You can’t pretend that everything is hunky dory with your team. This will take some bravery as you just have to state plainly to your team that something is wrong with the team some where.

Take a break: Allow the situation to rest. Sleep on it. You can share your ideas with a colleague outside your department or with a senior professional. On many occasions team tensions are not resolved easily so be patient.

Involve a mediator: You run the risk of being partial while solving team crisis. Hence it is better to review the situation by a third party. Present the situation before him/her in an objective manner and let the person suggest solutions.

Decide on what really matters: There has to be a reason why you are keen to sort out an issue. If it doesn’t make a qualitative difference to the end result, then let it go. Or else, you review your goal with your team and get them to re-focus on the long term benefits.

Be a patient listener: Have you really bothered to listen to both the parties? Practice active listening. Hear the story in detail rather than chipping in with your ideas or solutions. Discuss the matter with the concerned persons to understand whether you have comprehended the problems objectively. Such a display of empathy may encourage the parties to solve their differences.

Compromise: Agree on a middle path. You will be surprised to see how accommodating other parties will be once you concede first. Don’t let your ego prevent you from doing this.

List down the agreements: Take note of all points that the entire team has agreed on. Stress on the core values and common steps. This will spur them to cooperate in a better manner.

Apologies: Say sorry for being dominating yelling making accusations or not showing proper understanding, etc. Humility can go a long way healing buried egos. Team tension is a part and parcel of corporate life. When you have a team of strong individuals, tensions are bound to arise. Strive to keep differences minor and temporary.

Whenever a senior executive leaves another or a better organization he takes along with him a team of people working with the present employer to the new employer. Looking at the numerous adverse affects of this practice, many organizations are now taking steps to curb it. One such step is putting clauses in the employment contract of senior employees wherein they cannot take their teams along if they are on their way out. Recently we were asked by our investor to put these clauses in the employment contracts. It is fair as the organizations tend to invest heavily to create these teams.

Supervising a young team:

When we talk teams it can include supervising youngsters to be quite a challenge. Most of them are too aggressive, hyper, excited or nervous for your liking. But it is this dynamic bunch that will the company looks forward in the coming years. Here are few tips that will help you supervise over the youngsters in a better manner.

Behave nicely: Though they look chirpy, most youngsters feel; nervous within even what they are asked to do small tasks. Make sure you do not intimidate or demoralize them by any form of aggressive or condescending behavior. Always remember that they are your colleagues and treat them with respect.

Always ask for ideas: Young people get a morale booster when their supervisor/ managers take their opinion. It reaffirms his/her faith in their intelligences and capabilities. This motivates them to put on their best show. Like wise when you assign a task to a youngster avoid nitpicking or offer help even when it is not needed. This lowers their self worth as well as ability to make decisions.

Do not let them loose: While it is okay to be friendly with your young team members, it is equally important to stay in authority. It should be made clear that they must consult you for certain matters and follow a certain system of working. Since, you are ultimately responsible for them; it helps to stay in control.

Have a positive approach: Be cheerful and confident while interacting with your young team. Whining, lack of enthusiasm or negative behavior will dampen their spirits. Criticize constructively rather than for the heck of it.

Give proper instructions: many youngsters are clueless about even the most simplest of tasks. When you just assign a task and move ahead, they start feeling hesitant about approaching you for help. But when you offer instructions or a proper procedure to follow while doing a task, you automatically become more accessible to them.

Show recognition: A compliment can go a long way in boosting the morale of a youngster. Recognize the contribution of every young team member and applaud them for for their efforts. This will build better emotional bonds.

Three envelopes >>>>
A fellow has just been hired as a new CEO of a large high tech corporation The CEO who was stepping down met with him privately and presented him with three numbered envelopes. Open these if you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve.

Well things went along pretty smoothly, but six months later, sales took a downturn and he was really catching a lot of heat. About at his wits end, he remembered the envelopes. He went to his drawer and took out the first envelope. The message read ‘Blame your predecessor’.

The new CEO called a press conference and tactfully laid the blame at the feet of the previous CEO. Satisfied with his comments, the press responded positively sales began to pick up and the problem was soon behind him.

About a year later, the company was again experiencing a slight dip in sales, combined with serious product problems. Having learned from his previous experience, the CEO quickly opened the second envelope. The message read, Recognize. This he did and the company quickly rebounded.

After several consecutive profitable quarters the company once again fell on difficult times. The CEO went to his office closed the door ad opened to third envelope.

The message said Prepare three envelopes.

Nipping it in the bud

Vollenweider, too, agrees that companies should have some non-solicitation clauses I their contracts. But it will always be very hard to enforce them, as all employees of a firm can leave anytime and proving poaching is very difficult. However, I feel that the only real long term way of minimizing such behavior is to offer great development opportunities to employees…

At Maruti Suzuki and Gemini Communication they do not have any such clause in the appointment terms though they feel it should be introduced. Putting a clause may help t some eetnt. However, I think developing a positive, supportive and challenging work environment would be a better, professional and long term countermeasures..

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