Monday, February 3, 2014

Signs your team is going to lose

Twelve seconds in to last night’s Super Bowl, the Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning, tried to communicate a change to his teammates. But, they could not hear him, and the center hiked the ball over Manning’s head. The result of the miscommunication was a safety worth two points for the opposing team.
After the play, Manning and a teammate had an exchange that revealed a team out of synch. Manning was saying something, and the teammate turned toward him and said a really bad F word. Did you notice that?

My first thought was that the exchange showed lack of respect and did not bode well for the team. Pretty easy to surmise when the other team scored a safety off their mistake. Whether Manning deserved respect from his teammate, and vice versa, is up for debate; however, what is not debatable is that without respect among teammates, losing is likely. Not guaranteed but likely. Right?

When your mistakes enable another team to score points, or gain favor, you need to consider how teamwork effected the error. Is your ineffective teamwork enabling your competition to score with your customers? It might be easy for outsiders to predict losing, just as it was for people watching the game last night.

Here are eleven indications that a team at work is likely to lose:
  1. Fuzzy mission: Teams fail when the mission is unclear, assumed, or overlooked. Teams that rush to do something, and overlook the need for a clear direction, are likely to fail.
  2. Weak mission: Some NFL teams say their goal all year was to get to the Super Bowl. Do they want to get there or win it? The teammates must be working toward the same goal.
  3. Random changes: Teams fall apart when customer changes are not reasonable, understood, or challenged. A confused customer needs help getting on track, and most teammates want to offer such help. Of course, customers don’t always want it or take it, but the team needs to know it was offered. Frankly, if the customer does not want help getting their mission on track, is that a desirable customer? The answer lies in the difference between being like Burger King (“have it your way, we don’t care what you want, we’ll just give it to you”) and The Capital Grille.
  4. Inattentive leadership: When leaders let the roosters rule the barn, chaos ensues.
  5. Haphazard team formation: There is a difference between a bunch of individuals performing well and those who perform well together.
  6. Ineffective use of the players: Super Bowls can’t be won alone, even when there is a superstar on the field. Teams at work will lose when teammates are not utilized for their strengths, knowledge, and experience.
  7. Infighting: Disagreements can lead to creativity; however, everyone must realize there is often more than one right way for a team to win. Explore different ways then pick one and go.
  8. Procrastination: See #7. When teams just fight and don’t move forward, losing is likely.
  9. Limited resources: They say defense wins football games. If you have the best offense and the best special teams, but a poor defense, your team is not likely to win a Super Bowl. At your workplace, if you have the best program manager and talented teammates but a mediocre project plan, the team is likely to fail.
  10. Stodgy solutions: Today’s challenges need creative, innovative solutions. Doing things the way we have always done them will not lead to anything new.
  11. Poor communication: As shown in the Super Bowl, opponents will capitalize on communication miscues. Miscommunication wastes time, costs money, and can damage customer relationships.  

This list could help future work teams avoid pitfalls that lead to failure. If you want to hoist the winning trophy, pay attention to what causes teams to lose so yours can be set up for success.
What else do you think could cause a team to lose? The list could be endless.