How could a company have a group of highly successful individuals not perform well as a team?

Over the years we have come into contact with organizations of highly motivated and successful individuals, yet as a team, they failed at achieving their potential as underperforming teams – and therefore as individuals.  How and why do these reasons occur?

Reason #1  Environments that emphasize individual performance through recognition and rewards systems generally get what they pay for – individual performance.   While there is inherent benefit to such internal competition, a reminder that we’re on the same team can also prove useful at times.  The benefits to working together as a team from the individual’s perspective as well as the organization’s perspective could at times use a little public relations work.  Partnering top and seasoned performers with newer or struggling team members can not only improve immediate production results but have the residual benefit of promoting camaraderie which can produce a more enjoyable and fulfilling environment in which to spend 8 – 10 hours a day.

Reason #2  Lack of trust, lack of confidence in team members.  It impossible to work with people you don’t trust.  More specifically, it’s impossible to have and achieve shared goals with individuals that you’re unsure of and unclear as to their motivation.  Real teamwork requires people to have faith in one another.  Confidence that each other has the other’s back.  Real teamwork requires real trust.

Reason #3  No benefit to performing as a team. Many leaders in the quest to shortcut success, focus their all their efforts on the results of individuals with the more visible natural talent while displaying sincerity (falsely) to working as a team.  In business as in sports, focusing on individuals, will always result in performance as measured in individual terms, not in team results.  Such an approach prevents any possibility of achieving synergy – a condition whereas the results produced are greater as a team than the sum of the performance of individuals.

Reason #4   Myopic focus: With a focus on a single measure of success, i.e. winning, sales or
production the result will be in best case, attainment of the focus.  However, long term successful leaders recognize that winning (or sales or production) is but one measure of success.  Other arguably critical objectives should be development,  – teaching our kids about teamwork and teams is an equally valuable lesson.  We are failing spectacularly in mentoring, modeling and teaching teamwork.

Reason 5  Every successful leader realizes whether or not a team performs as a team is the responsibility of the leader.  This is the one person by virtue of the role, title and responsibility who is most capable of creating team results.  The leader is the hub.  No effective or mature  leader will blame their team for not performing as a team – that is indicative of a leader minus the forethought to their responsibility.

For additional support, see also:  “Team Supplies For A High Performance Team“, “The Most Crucial Component of Teams“, “Elements of a High Performance Team

Charlie SelcerAbout the author: Charlie Selcer has provided organizations with employee training and development through Strictly Success Inc. for over 15 years. Strictly Success is a U.S. based employee training company for both the public and private sectors including some of America’s Fortune 1000 companies. Strictly Success specializes in high performance teams and teambuilding, employee motivation, employee accountability and change management.

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