If there is one single reason that makes the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful team, it is the interpersonal relations between the members and their leaders. When the trust erodes between members and leaders, everything goes for a toss.
Keeping this in mind, let’s examine if your team relationships are on the right track or are they headed downhill?
A breakdown of communication
A breakdown of communication channels within the team is the first sign of trouble. Tension is evident during each interaction and team members feel that they receive inadequate or vague instructions to complete their projects. Lack of overall context and objectives can result in errors. When communication is inadequate, team members often resort to hiding these errors and fail to communicate difficult situations keeping them from completing their assigned tasks. All of this eventually spirals out of control and matters escalate beyond the team.
Lack of trust
Lack of trust sets in as soon as communications break down. Team members often tend to respond with skepticism and suspicion to project requirements, while the team leader is unwilling to accommodate justifications or missed project milestones. This eventually leads to further escalation in mutual mistrust as each party deliberately keeps information away from the other.
Micromanagement at every step
Micromanaging experienced and highly skilled team members like novices is a sure sign of mistrust between the team leader and the team members. Double or triple checking their work or placing rigid restraints on decision making showcases micromanagement at every step of the project. This often results in poor quality of work and is detrimental to the team’s overall morale.
As the troubles in the relationships grow, opposing camps are set up with team members on one side and the team leader on the other. Both camps complain of difficulties arising from the other camp. In some worst cases, team members refuse to consider the team leader as a part of the team anymore. Workplace conversations become more vigilant and often the team members reach a mutual understanding to circumvent the team leader in obtaining information related to their work directly from his superiors.
Matters escalate to HR
When things are completely out of control, senior managers or HR department may have to get involved to sort out the issues. The team members might attempt to oust their leader while the team leader might think of getting rid of the ‘troublemakers’ in his team. Either way, senior management and HR view this as a strain on the team’s overall reputation. Eventually, it may even become extremely difficult to find new recruits for the team as its reputation spirals down.
Deterioration of interpersonal relations within a team happen over a period of time. The reasons may vary, and the timeline may vary, but if left unchecked, it can cause serious damage to the team’s output. These are just a few early warning signs of deteriorating relations within your team. All you need to do is pay attention to these signals and avoid the trouble of bitter relationships with your team.