3 Delusions Leaders Have When It Comes To Their Teams

“Everything is fine with my team right now. We’re doing well.” Emma is the director of a boutique accounting firm. They’ve got a funky new office, with a new fit out, upgraded equipment, and a relaxation hangout zone. The atmosphere is buzzy.

Emma could feel comfortable with the state of her team and the focus of the office. She’s got the right people on board, in a comfortable environment. #win

This is the first delusion.

Dale Carnegie and MSW did a study on over 1500 employees in the US and discovered 71% of employees are not fully engaged and $11 billion is lost annually to turnover.  Read the report here.

Most leaders reading those statistics think they are the exception. That their team is somehow better than the rest. After all, you’re the leader, you’re smart, and you put a lot of effort in to your work. You and your team are different, and there’s no way you’ll be one of those toxic places. 

Here are the top 3 delusions leaders have when it comes to their team:

1.    “We’re all good.”

If there are no burning fires or staff complaining loudly, leaders often assume things are working fine, and they can get on with doing their work. Head in the sand.

Just because they’re happy now doesn’t mean there aren’t problems brewing. Without a regular system of accountability and culture check in, little issues can turn in to a major crisis. Just like a small cut left untended can turn septic, a culture without regular hygiene can go toxic.

2.    “The new office will fix it.”

Cramped work conditions can fray tempers. New surroundings are uplifting and appropriate technology helps people do their work effectively. Sounds like the recipe for a happy team, right?

Not quite.

Comfortable surroundings won’t prevent politics in the absence of leadership. Teams need guidance and attention to prevent factions and rivalry.

3. “They should work it out - they’re smart people.”

Wouldn’t it be great if people spoke honestly with each other? Addressed issues when they arose? Sorted out their own problems without running to Mama or Papa Boss? It would certainly save a lot of time and energy of the leader if people stayed out of their office and sorted their own problems.

People don’t go to work to be miserable and hate each other. All of us want to be happy and comfortable in our work environment. That intention however is not enough to overcome a lack of skill in having real conversations.

The equation is simple: ignore your team dynamics and it will cost you time, money, and energy. Rebuilding a team will set you back months if not years in lost productivity and organisational knowledge, let alone missed opportunities in the market.

Leading a team is like maintaining a home: it needs regular attention to keep in good working order. If you ignore the cracks in the walls, the leaky faucet, the outdated electrics, you may need to do some serious repairs. Left too long, it gets outdated and you’re looking at a renovation. In the worst case scenario, a knock down and re-build.

What system do you have in place to create culture accountability? How skilled are your people in real conversations that matter? What cracks do you see appearing that might need repair?

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I hate seeing good teams go bad. Life is too short to endure rather than enjoy our workplaces. That’s why I’ve created a program called Connected: Teams that thrive that will help you halve your people stress, get people out of your office, and get your time back. It gives you and your team the skills to handle issues before they get worse, and a system of accountability to prevent cracks in the first place. Want to refine your team rather than repair it? Let’s talk! zoe@innercompass.com.au