Sometimes close-knit teams where people work for years do not demonstrate the best result. What is the reason and how to avoid this?
Anna Izmailova
Business coach, employee of Stockholm School of Economics Russia
Perfect relations in the staff, visits to theaters and bars together with the colleagues and common belief in goals and values of the company. It seems that everything is well, employees are friendly and positive but results are getting increasingly worse. Sometimes people start blaming the market, currency exchange rate fluctuations and even clients in such situations. However, the reason is most likely in the team.
Price of friendship
Although it may seem strange, these are good relations that hinder maintenance of efficiency. When instead of forcing your subordinate to make ten cold calls by the end of the day you drink tea with him and discuss the latest episode of the favorite series or scroll through the line in Facebook. It is even worse if people in the team start hushing down mistakes of each other. In the Russian culture it is considered a bad manner to "report" about anyone. He makes mistake and so what. He will correct everything and he will tell everything if he wants. This is a principle very understandable in the human way and noble if only the work does not suffer, clients are happy and there are no additional risks related to negligence about which the management is not aware.
How will you react to non-fresh products in a restaurant? You will definitely never go back to it. Just imagine kitchen of a restaurant where the purchasing manager has forgotten to order fresh fish, the cook has decided not to reveal him in order not to deprive him of a bonus and has cooked a dish from what he has had. In the best case everything will result in tarnished reputation and in the worst case this will result in lawsuits of the poisoned guests.
Just business
The teams that have clear goals, timeframe and observable results work the most efficient of all. It is the best if collective bonus depends on results of the work. Project teams in IT companies may serve as examples. They hire specialists for a certain order and disband them when the order is successfully fulfilled. Remote employees acquired popularity exactly in the IT industry. People from different countries who sometimes do not even suspect how their colleagues look like and where they work may be employed in one project. They are united only by a clear task, functions, timeframe and results.
Of course, human relations are important and comfortable atmosphere in the office, choice of the place of work and even the final result of sales depend on them in the Russian corporate culture. But it is important to be able to notice when a team starts transiting from the stage of work to permanent friendly meetings that do not end with anything. Then it is worth thinking what will be the next project like and which specialists will be necessary in it? Probably it is better to sacrifice relations for the sake of efficiency increase?
Fatigue of the staff
Teams that have worked together for a long time have already distributed roles among their participants a long time ago. However, people develop, strive for new things, they wish other tasks and, of course, other roles. It is necessary to give a possibility to participants of a team to use the potential and new competences but already in another team.
It is very good when there is a big flow of orders but their fulfillment in the same style leads to stagnation. There is no development because the team works according to an already worked out scheme. To avoid this, it is worth tracking condition of employees: how efficiently they do the work and develop themselves.
Fear of the boss
However, a team is not always a factor of efficiency decrease. Sometimes it is the manager who is the reason of results getting worse. It is difficult and fearful for majority of directors who have climbed the career ladder for a long time and stubbornly and who have finally reached the long-cherished paramount to think that someone will breathe down their neck very soon. Thus the manager starts erecting barriers willy-nilly and does not enable employees to develop.
A strong manager gathers a talented team, develops people and inspires them for new and new achievements. Then the company will work efficiently both with the manager and after his quitting.
Time to part
Along with this, any person, even a well taught one who invests in his development and does not stand still, strives for preserving of the constant around himself. People get used to the office, people and established business processes. When changes happen in an established social circle any employee feels discomfort. However, talented managers understand that changes and new teams gathered in accordance with new ideas can generate much more fresh ideas than an already settled staff that has got used to working according to ready-made scenarios.

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