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Creating High Performing Teams: Why Some Teams Fail to Get Off the Ground Before They Start and What You Can Do to Prevent that From Happening

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Have you ever given an assignment to a team only to have it fail to achieve the full results that you were seeking? I have. I have witnessed teams that seem to have been doomed from inception while others have blown the doors off of expectations. Why do some teams seem to never get off the ground?

Recently a colleague asked me for help with a team he was working at a major utility. The senior managers had:

Created teams by selecting team members that represented a cross-section of the utility,

Given them specific assignments,

Provided them time away from their regularly assigned duties so that the teams could meet,

Required routine progress reports, and

Swore commitment to support them.

So why were they struggling?

From my experience, I've learned that, if not handled properly, the things that make teams successful are the same things that can lead them to failure. Some of these include:

Defining the objective

Setting realistic expectations

Identifying the teams' and members' roles and responsibilities, and decision-making authority

Identifying the right composition of the team

Communicating what's going on to others throughout the organization

Choosing the right place to start work

In this paper I will discuss how to make sure that you have the right players on the team. Obviously, if you don't get that right you may never accomplish what you originally set out to achieve, and I will also share some tough lessons learned derived from some very unpleasant experiences that I've had the misfortune of creating.

Keywords: Creating and sustaining high performing teams; empowerment; guidelines for creating high performing teams; team chartering; team member selection criteria

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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