Whereas the previous article ‘Why Can’t We Stay On track’ looked at the dangers of digressing and losing focus due to the reluctance of some team members to move forward, this article looks at the team dynamic almost from the opposite perspective – rushing to completion which can be equally damaging if not managed effectively and kept in check.
However, let’s deal with the ‘realists’ and ‘sceptics’ first…
Just Do It!
Yes, there are times when the most appropriate action is to make a decision quickly (even when there is a lack of data) and move on as long as that decision is monitored closely and there are contingencies in case the decision does not deliver the results expected or anticipated.
There will be times when the team’s consensus is to gather more data, analyse the situation again, then decide on the next action.
This is not about wasting time or procrastinating. It’s about recognizing that, as team leaders, we have the responsibility to ensure the appropriate action is taken. It’s also about the duty of care we have for our team members.
Finally, remember that we are measured not just on what was achieved but how it was achieved.
Rushing To Completion
This behaviour can be quite common. The team may find itself being pressurized by one or more team members who are totally unwilling to work to the agreed meeting agenda or project structure / process
“Why Can’t We Just Get This Finished?”
The analogy of the tortoise and the hare is probably over used but the point is that if we are really after quality and long-lasting results, whatever the objectives are, it takes time, it takes constant commitment from our team members.
Let me put it another way, what are the chances of the team being successful, of following through, of delivering the action plan if true consensus wasn’t reached?
Before we look at the behaviours you may have recognized in one of your teams when certain individuals seem to be impatient and really not into reaching consensus, we have all probably heard of the term ‘hidden agendas’.
In those situations where we are managing a cross functional or multi departmental team, certain team members may be under pressure themselves. Maybe expectations have already been ‘suggested’ by department heads or other influential people. The official team objectives or ‘agenda’ have been published but these unfortunate team members may feel they have absolutely no option but to bring this ‘hidden’ agenda to the next session.
What would you do?
There you are, part of a team. You enjoy the sessions, it’s a great group to belong to. So far consensus has never been an issue. But now, you are on your way to the next meeting or session and you have basically been told what the outcome needs to be. So, what would you do?
Tough one, isn’t it!
Maybe. However, it is important to be aware that this kind of pressure can lead to an unwillingness by other team members to go along with the decision / solution; actions may be seen as disorganized and unsystematic; and, ultimately lead to a dysfunctional team.
So, what’s a team leader to do?
When facilitating team sessions or development workshops, one flipchart which was always posted on the wall and in full view was the one displaying the ground rules we ALL had agreed to at the stage the group or team formed. If the ‘rush to completion’ is just a natural impatience by a team member because they want to see “some progress”, remind team members of the ground rules, why they are important, and that they cannot be compromised.
It may well be that the apparent hasty decision / solution is a really good one. No problem. Just use the agreed process so that everyone understands the benefits, why it makes sense, and reach consensus.
When this rush is caused by external pressure or influence, and the decision doesn’t make sense to you and the team, it may be more appropriate to discuss this with the team member(s) offline, try to understand why the pressure has been brought to bear. It may mean discussing this with those who are applying the pressure, get them to explain why the decision makes sense.
Be creative. In the context of the team’s objectives, ask the influencer to present a brief overview, as much as they are able to, as to why it makes sense to run with the decision or suggested solution. Discuss this openly, following your agreed team process and decide how to move forward. Again, make sure the ongoing results of the decision are closely monitored.
Even better, be proactive. Once bitten, twice shy. When team members report into different departmental or functional heads, get the inputs from those who can bring influence to bear on the team’s decisions. Understand where they are coming from and ensure they know that their inputs will form a key part of the discussion process within the team.
Oh, one last thing, just make sure it’s not you, as team leader, that is adopting this rush to completion behaviour!
Managing Your Team (Part 9) will look at Is That a Fact or Just an Opinion
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