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With apologies to the glass-half-full optimists among us, the fact is that many workplaces today are marked – or at times, marred – by what can be called low-performance teams.

Unlike their high-performance counterparts, members of low-performance teams are not necessarily comprised of toxic troublemakers; who, if not always easy to remove, are certainly easy to spot (and yes, they take pride in this).

Team Building ClarizenRather, low-performance team members are often hard working and care about success on all levels: individually, team-wise and organizationally. However, the team building dynamics and structure – or lack thereof – are systematically pulling them back, and unleashing some or all of these symptoms:

1. Excessive Status Meetings

Occasional status meetings are fine. But a proliferation means that status is not being effectively conveyed, and meetings are essentially not happening. In other words: these excessive (so-called) status meetings are time wasting morale killers, and clear evidence that low-performance teams are on the loose.

2.  Lack of Visibility

Low-performance teams repel visibility; not because they’re trying to hide something, but because they’re trying to protect themselves from being micromanaged and second-guessed. Consequently, nobody really knows what anyone else is doing, which means that efficiency – when it occurs – is incidental rather than intentional, and team building is a slogan instead of a reality.

3. Aimless Communication

Surprisingly, low-performance team member often communicate as much as their high-performance team member counterparts – sometimes even more. But a close look at what is being communicated reveals that it’s often aimless, in the sense that it’s not aligned with work, and it doesn’t move tasks and activities ahead towards completion. So yes, people are communicating (both online and off). But no, they’re not actually collaborating. And this makes all the difference between fundamental team building and faux team building.

4. Lack of Transparency

As noted above, a lack of visibility prevents team members on low-performance teams from seeing what their colleagues are doing, which directly and indirectly diminishes their own productivity and performance. A lack of transparency is part of the same problem, but the obstacles are more big picture-related. Team members can’t see how their contribution fits into the larger project, program or strategy, and they don’t know why or how high level decisions are made. Without these insights, they feel disconnected, powerless and unsupported – which cuts at the heart of team building, and renders it impossible.

5. Lack of Speed

Last but by no means least: low-performance teams take far longer than their counterparts in other organizations – or possibly even their own company – to “get stuff done.” Even the simplest tasks can be clogged with excessive touchpoints and re-work; to say nothing of complex activities, which usually take on a tedious, time consuming life of their own. Once again, this is not because of a lack of effort. It’s because the work management system – if it exists at all – is fragmented, non-standardized, and chaotic. Instead of enabling team members to be efficient, they’re constantly fighting uphill, swimming against the current, and “doing more to get less.”

Fixing Low-Performance Teams

Obviously, low-performance teams are threat – both to their own success, and that of their organization as a whole. But the good news is that they aren’t inevitable, and as such can be fixed; or better yet, prevented from emerging in the first place.

At Clarizen, we’ve designed our project management solution to make high performance team building the norm; not the exception. For example:

  • Instead of excessive status meetings, team members effortlessly update their status, progress and any other relevant issue anytime, anywhere and from any device.
  • Instead of wondering and worrying about “what’s going on,” team members instantly see where their colleagues are, while they grasp how their contribution fits into the bigger picture.
  • Instead of communicating for the sake of communicating, team members collaborate in the context of work, and usher tasks and activities forward through to completion.
  • Instead of running into obstacle after obstacle and setback after setback, team members (finally!) have the tools, information and work execution platform they need to work faster than ever before – yet while spending less time and reducing risk.

The bottom like is that low-performance teams, while prevalent, are by no means permanent. They can be cultivated into high-performance teams with the right approach and technology. Clarizen is a core part of the solution, because we know as clearly as our customers that effective team building is not optional. On today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, it’s essential for current success, and vital for future survival.

Learn more by taking a product tour, watching a live demo, or taking Clarizen for a free 30-day test drive.

Todd Valentine
Todd is a Senior Product Manager at Clarizen. Todd has experience working in innovation, product development and PMO organizations within VMware’s CTO office. He has a master's in Information Systems and an MBA from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University.