You’re sitting in the corner, working away at your business plan while the rest of your team is nowhere to be seen. I see the frustration on your face when I ask how things are going. I sense that there are things you want to say but that you just instead decide to keep plowing away at the task at hand, hoping to get it all completed before your deadline.
If you could speak confidentially you would tell me how frustrated you feel. If you could be unafraid of the consequences, you would say that you’re doing all the work while the others are uninterested in demotivated. You would scream out “they’re just not pulling their weight”.
But instead you sit in silence and don’t say what’s really on your mind.
So what can you do the next time you’re in a team and someone isn’t pulling their share of the weight? Try these 5 tips.
1. identify shared goals
Before starting any work, you should first sit down with the full team and discuss what you want to achieve. Bring yourself forward to the point in time when it has already been completed. Imagine what you will be seeing around you. What will you be proud of or satisfied to have achieved?
Allow each person to share his or her desired outcome with the group so that you can easily understand where there may be differences. Then have the team come up with a shared goal that each person can commit to.
2. talk about the hard stuff
We like to expect the best from one another – that everyone will work hard, pull their weight, and contribute towards the shared goals. However, sometimes things don’t always go as planned.
Before any conflict arises and while everyone is in a rational state, speak to one another about what happens if and when things do turn sour. Create a conflict resolution strategy that considers how decisions will be made and how any future problems will be resolved.
3. define strengths
A good team should have a mixture of skills and experience. Each individual will be better than another at something – either from nature, experience, or level of pleasure derived.
Spend some time looking at yourself first. What do you enjoy doing? Where are your strengths?
Share this information with your team and decide who will play which role within the team. If a key skills is missing from the team composition, you may need to pick up tasks that doesn’t come so easily or you may need to bring someone else in to help.
4. manage expectations
After identifying the roles that each person will play within your team, clearly define what is expected of the person performing these particular roles. Have each person share what tasks he or she will and won’t be doing, what hours the teams plans to work, and what should be be done in the case that someone is unavailable at any point.
Work backwards from your deadlines and create a plan which manages the tasks of the people on the team. State key milestones and delivery requirements for each stage of the plan. When people know what is (and isn’t) expected of them, they can more easily manage these expectations.
5. be honest
Too often when forming a team, people hold back and only talk about the positive stuff. They want to be seen as a ‘team player’ and may say that they’re willing to ‘do anything’ and work ‘anytime’. This rarely happens in reality and this can lead to disappointment.
Then when people feel disappointed, they’re often too cautious at discussing how they’re feeling. Emotions fester and become bigger than the original conflict.
Be honest with each other from the beginning to reduce the chance of hard feelings. If a conflict does arise, then be honest about the problem before it becomes bigger than it needs to be. Be hard with the problem, not the person.
over to you
What has been your experience of working with your startup team? I’d love to hear about what’s worked well for you. What would you add to my list? Let us know in the comments below.
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