Team Management FAQs

Click on a link below to access that FAQ (frequently-asked question) topic.


Advice on Team Functioning and Management
Causes of Poor Team Performance
Characteristics of Successful and Unsuccessful Teams
Efficient/Effective Team Meetings
Managing the Non-Performing Group Member
Team Performance




Advice on Team Functioning and Management

“What should we be thinking about regarding team functioning and management?”

Based on experience, the following key questions about group functioning are of paramount importance within LINKS: (1) How will the group be managed? (2) Who will manage the group? (3) How will the work be divided? (4) How will coordination be achieved? (5) How will work quality be ensured? (6) How will conflicts among individuals be kept at a healthy level (not too high or low)? (7) How often will group functioning be reviewed?

Address these questions early and often within your group. Do not assume that these kinds of issues naturally take care of themselves. Regular discussions about the status of the group should be undertaken.

revised 06/15/2006
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Causes of Poor Team Performance

“In your experience, what are the causes of poor team performance in LINKS?”

In my experience, the principal causes of poor team performance in LINKS are a combination of the following factors:

  • poor management of demand-supply interrelationships;
  • not really meeting customer requirements (i.e., failure to establish any meaningful differential advantage, particularly regarding configuration);
  • lack of focus, by trying to be all things to all customers in all markets (capacity, reconfiguration, time, and human resource constraints combine to favor concentrated effort in fewer than "all" market regions);
  • limited research and/or limited efforts to interpret the research studies that are available;
  • limited attention to competitive developments (i.e., lack of in-depth competitor analysis to discover the underlying drivers of market behavior);
  • financial mismanagement related to cost structure management (variable and fixed costs management, covering corporate-wide overheads, etc.);
  • not really understanding the simulation's structure and environment (i.e., treating the participant's manual in a cursory fashion rather than something to be studied in detail and referenced regularly);
  • poor work ethic (not spending enough time on LINKS); and,
  • team mismanagement (not spending enough time thinking about and discussing team management issues and related human resource deployment strategies and tactics).

revised 02/26/2000
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Characteristics of Successful and Unsuccessful Teams

“Can you provide some general guidelines about the characteristics of successful and unsuccessful teams?”

Here's a very nice analysis of success/failure patterns in teams. The source is Wayne Hensley, “Guidelines For Success and Failure in Groups,” Supervision (Sep/00).

Seven Steps To Group Success:

  1. Appoint/Elect Someone as Leader/Coordinator. Working with even a small group is an exhausting and trying task. Coordinating this task is an important function.
  2. Establish a Time Or Times When All The Group Members Can Meet. The only way to make a realistic assessment of progress is to exchange information. This is virtually an impossible task if done in writing or by word of mouth.
  3. Hold a Meeting To Determine The Strengths of Each Group Member. Remember, the advantage of a group is that each task or phase can be handled by the most capable person in the group. Find out who that person is before assigning the work.
  4. Construct a Timetable of What Needs To Be Done and When It Must Be Done. The most efficient way to accomplish a group goal is to plan the amount of work and allow enough lead time to get it done.
  5. Make Time For Information Sharing Sessions. As each person works on the report, there will undoubtedly be information which would be extremely useful for another group member. Sharing this information will greatly enhance the quality of the final report.
  6. Always Proof Read Each Other's Work. No one is perfect. Some very simple errors can be discovered and corrected in the final report if it's read by even one other person (preferably by two others).
  7. Prepare The Final Report In Time For The Coordinator To Assemble It As A Complete Package. The goal of the group is the report itself. For this report to flow smoothly, someone must check the copy for continuity, style, etc. This all takes time.

Seven Steps To Group Failure:

  1. Don't Bother Putting Anyone In Charge. All of us are adults. We don't need anyone following us around like some "mother hen.
  2. Having Regular Meetings Is a Waste of Time. The world is full of really important things to do and working on this report isn't one of them. When something comes up, we can meet; otherwise, forget it.
  3. Simply Divide The Work And Distribute It. Everybody takes a part of the work and does it. Don't make a federal case out of this.
  4. Don't Sweat The Small Stuff. Each of us knows what has to be done. Good grief, don't you trust me?
  5. Each Person Does His Own Work. Why should I knock myself for someone else? I do my work and the other guy does his.
  6. I Will Check My Stuff; You Check Yours. I'm not going to "spy" on anyone else and I don’t want them spying on me. I did the work on this section; if I say it's right, its right!
  7. Don't Bother To Coordinate The Final Report. Besides, if we use a different font for each section, the report will have a unique look; it will stand out from the crowd. (In addition, I can put my name on each page so the boss will know what a good job I did.)

revised 06/15/2006
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Efficient/Effective Team Meetings

“Do you have any advice regarding how to run efficient and effective team meetings?”

Here are some suggestions from a former participant, Sheila Hancock (Vanderbilt University MBA Student, Fall/00).

  • Ground rules are essential to maintaining an efficient and productive team.
  • Like the Boy Scouts, be prepared. Show up for all meetings with appropriate reports and numbers, having reviewed them ahead of time, and be ready for discussion and decision making.
  • Each meeting should have a pre-determined purpose, agenda, and goal/goals. Everyone should be aware of these in advance and prepare his or her part for contribution. When needed, preparatory meetings should be held to determine inputs.
  • Members should be expected to have reviewed all results and research reports. They should be expected to come to the meeting ready to make recommendations for their area of responsibility.
  • If further discussion is needed to make a decision, those involved parties should break away and move to a new location, to avoid distracting other/distractions from members.
  • Any side issues or conversations must be kept to a minimum or tabled.

revised 06/15/2006
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Managing the Non-Performing Group Member

“What hints do you have for managing a non-performing group member?”

Here are some suggestions from Ginger Howerton (University of Texas at Dallas, Masters in International Management Studies program) for managing a non-performing 'lazy' team member. This advice appears to be useful for all situations involving groups. It would appear to be especially valuable reading for participants in team-based simulations where the group-work nature of the simulation extends over a lengthy period of time.

A key to leading the team to success is participation by all members. The first challenge is to identify the person who has the potential for being 'lazy.' Signs of a potential 'lazy' team member include: (1) a person who sits back in his chair and offers no sign of active participation in the group's discussion; (2) a person who has a conflict with all attempts to identify group meeting time; (3) a person who cannot understand the objective or assignments in the course and generally sees no value to the course; (4) a person who monopolizes team meetings with personal accounts of his active social life; (5) a person who fails complete assigned work on time or ever; and, (6) a person who frequently calls other team members to get guidance on how to complete his portion of the assignment.

Once the 'lazy' team member has been identified, immediate and decisive intervention must be taken to save the team from frustration and resentment. To engage the 'lazy' team member will require patience and consistency of the entire team, but ultimately, one person will need to continually pressure the potentially 'lazy' team member into participation.

Some useful techniques include the following:

  • Identify the 'lazy' person's strengths and weaknesses. Stroke the strengths and supplement his weaknesses by another team member's strengths.
  • Pair the 'lazy' person with another team member whose strengths include motivation, persuasion, and accountability skills.
  • Set very specific expectations and offer to demonstrate how to carry out the project or map out an approach to complete the project.
  • This type of person may suffer from low self-esteem, so frequent praise and encouragement by the team may stimulate performance.
  • Contact the 'lazy' person frequently to keep him on track and encourage success.
  • Allow the person to identify one meeting time that meets his needs only and then require him to attend meetings that meet the scheduling needs of the other team members.
  • Allow the 'lazy' member to share his portion of the project first, since often a short attention span precludes the person's participation after a long meeting.
  • Engage the 'lazy' person in participation by requiring each team member to identify strengths and weaknesses of other team members contributions to the project.
  • Often, when the 'lazy' team member feels successful early in the group sessions, participation in future projects will come more naturally.

Many reasons for 'laziness' exist. Unfortunately, many times the person truly isn't lazy, but paralyzed by the amount of work, fear of failure, or true lack of understanding. Although understandable, these explanations for lack of participation cannot be tolerated because they only lead to frustration by all involved. Encouragement and role modeling are the best motivators.

revised 08/20/2015
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Team Performance

“Are there some obvious signals as to how well a team is performing, from a teamwork point of view?”

Pamela Van Rees, an MBA student at Boston University with experience in large-scale management simulations, provided the following list of characteristics of well-functioning simulation teams:

  • The firm's long-term well-being is the top priority of all members.
  • Relevant issues are fully and adequately explored.
  • Proposals and objectives are clearly explained.
  • Members feel comfortable and spontaneous.
  • Feedback is given freely and directly.
  • Members feel respected, supported, and listened to.
  • Decisions are made with maximum efficiency and speed.
  • Disagreements are tactfully stated without being offensive.
  • Differences and misunderstandings are resolved in such a way as to strengthen and deepen rather than weaken relationships (by exploring the origins and implication of ideas).
  • Everyone's judgment is acknowledged and explored.
  • Interruptions are minimal.
  • Everyone's schedule is accommodated as fully as possible.
  • At any given time in a group meeting, each firm member is either engaged in holding the focus (proposing an idea or decision), listening to another's focus, giving feedback about the focus, or facilitating (creating the structure or leading) the discussion.

revised 06/15/2006
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