THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - May '15

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68 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2015 BUSINESS P roblems can arise throughout team development and management, but leaders must pay particular attention to the structure and focus of the team. Teams can encounter many problem areas during their tenure, but most challenges arise during the establishment of the team. Without a strong foundation that includes a focus, a mission, rules, boundaries and objectives, teams will encounter chronic problems. It is important for leaders to understand that team pro- ductivity will be diminished without a firm foundation. From the outset leaders must invest time and effort in team devel- opment to ensure long-term success. This process includes establishing a clear understanding of what to avoid to pre- vent future problems. Selection of a Project No One Is Interested In As organizations assign and develop teams for various projects, one common problem stems from selecting proj- ects neither managers nor team members are concerned about. Consequently, the project will likely die from inatten- tion. Often individual team members are assigned to several teams, and will only focus their attention on the projects they are interested in. Often the only motive that sustains the effort of the team is the commitment of its members. If uninterested in a project, individuals will resist it, hampering the team's ability to meet and work together effectively. When leaders develop new teams, the projects they assign should be meaningful to the active team members. Selecting a Desired Solution Leaders tend to think they already know which improvements need to be made before a team meets to study a problem, analyze it and make recommendations. Consequently, they pick a solution for the team to consider rather than have it look at the larger quality improvement process. This tendency does not empower teams to come up with changes and improvements, and their creativity is held back. As a result, the most creative and effective solutions may not be brainstormed, recommended, analyzed, studied and considered, and the team's effectiveness and productivity are diminished. While the leader's predetermined changes may in fact turn out to be the best way to proceed, teams should be allowed to arrive at their own conclusions, and be free to recommend actions they determine will yield the greatest success. Projects in Transition As companies evolve, many processes and projects are in transition. It is wasteful to assign a team a project or process that is undergoing transition or is scheduled for change. The exception here is if changes occur in a process because of the team. In such a case, the team's resources can be effectively used to study and evaluate the process and determine the best changes. Selecting a System Managers often delegate projects that are too ambitious and that should be broken down into smaller components. Properly focusing teams on particular elements of a project facilitates a better chance of success. In this manner they can concentrate their efforts and make recommendations that are easily implemented. Once improvements are made in one small area, teams can methodically move on to other areas. This method allows them to build on their successes and, ultimately, to impact the entire system. Improper Framing of the Problem When problems are properly framed, team operational boundaries are defined. But teams can frame a problem too narrowly or broadly. Broadly defined problems can create projects that are too vague or difficult to label. Consequently, teams quickly find they have neither the time nor resources to deal with such projects. Potential solutions also become broadly defined, ineffective and difficult to implement. Narrowly defined problems create ineffective solutions. Tight parameters prevent teams from exploring all aspects of the problem and its possible solutions. The final solution can result in issues and concerns that are ignored but should have been considered. —Timothy F. Bednarz Structure and Focus: The Don'ts

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