ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - May 2001


Behind the Teams: We've provided you with the tools and resources that will help you in your fight to keep team efforts alive, to build a greater sense of community and unity in your organization.
Click here to check it out!

  In This Issue...

A Purpose And A Place
Do Upper Managers Earn Their Keep?
Pageturners: Effective Training Strategies
Proof Positive
Brief Cases

 One From Column B —
My Kingdom for a Team

Peter Block explores the durability of teams and why they remain fascinating after all these years.

  Behind the Teams:

Just What the Doctor Ordered
In Support of Teams
Cynthia Minor and Mike Levenhagen

Highlights of Winning Teams
Views For A Change
Pam Walsh's Unofficial Quality Tips

Return to NFC Index

Views For A Change

Consultant Q&A

Nancy Coleman Responds:

You pose an interesting and challenging question that plagues many teams in a variety of organizations. The reality is that by not responding and allowing this person to perpetuate their lackadaisical behavior, you will do more damage to the team’s productivity and morale than if you had addressed the problem head on.

 Keep in mind, your team wants to succeed as individuals as well as collectively. A weak link will demoralize the collective culture and allow for rapid deterioration within the spirit of the team.

Some Ideas
I recommend an aggressive yet compassionate approach to the resolution of the lackadaisical behavior. Try some of the following suggestions:

Promote a performance measurement campaign that allows for visibility around collective expectations. This campaign should set measurable standards for work to be done. The core of this system can be built on schedules, work breakdown structures and work packages on individual assignments.

Speak openly in the team environment about each other’s roles. Ensure that all individuals on the team understand their goals, mission and individual responsibilities. These conversations should be collaborative and constructive. Create an environment that fosters individual and collective accountability.

Provide team members with a structure around the charter, goals, values and mission for the group. Each team meeting should include reflection upon the norms created by the aforementioned items.

Remember that building an effective performance team takes time and there may be instances along this path that cause friction for one of more members. Ensure that an open channel of communication, both formal and informal, among team members is maintained at all times.

If All Else Fails...
If none of the above recommendations work to enhance the performance of this individual, more assertive and individual action must be taken. Begin an individual coaching and measurement process that includes specific performance expectations. Meet with the team member and let him or her know about the problems their behavior is causing and their potential negative impacts on the team, project and organization. Agree on coaching goals in writing and set dates for periodic performance reviews. Follow up aggressively to ensure the team member’s training and coaching needs are met in a proactive manner.

 If the individual does not respond to the personal attention, removal from the team will be necessary. Apprehension to do so will promote dissension within the team and ultimately hurt the overall performance.

Keep in Mind
Throughout the experience, communication is critical. Do not allow speculation on performance issues. Deal with the situation directly, and although the team does not need to be privy to the details of any coaching or performance improvement techniques you may be employing, make sure they are aware that you as a team leader have addressed the situation and are working aggressively towards a resolution.

 Although these types of situations are difficult, a team leader must rise to the occasion in order to preserve the integrity of the team and maintain morale.

NANCY COLEMAN, PMP is vice president of operations at Advanced Management Services, Inc. Her firm consults and trains in continuous improvement, project management and management development. She focuses on integrating quality principles into project and organizational development practices and the synergy of people, process and technology. She can be reached at

H. James Harrington Responds

May 2001Homepage


  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News