Insights you can use

Posted by Doc
Apr 10 2009

Three Myths about Teams

Myth #1: All a team needs to get them working well together is a clear goal and sufficient pressure to perform. I’ve never seen a team without a clear and compelling goal gel; but I’ve seen plenty of teams who did have a clear goal flail and fail. Until a group of people decides to work as a team and decides to agree, they won’t function well as a team.

Myth #2: A manager can discern individual contributions to team results. While a manager can tell certain things about the way a team is functioning, in most cases, it’s impossible to tease out individual contribution. And when managers try to assess who has made the biggest contributions, they are often wrong. Taking action on an incorrect assessment can have devastating effects on the team, and makes the manager look foolish.

Myth #3: If the team isn’t struggling or working long hours they aren’t working hard. Teams that are working well together make the work look easy. They work at a purposeful, yet relaxed pace. They even look like they are having fun.

via insights you can use.

Esther Derby frequently has valuable insights that I can use. 😉

I would call these “The Three Start-Up Myths About Teams,” having worked at numerous startups over the years. These have certainly been among the guiding principles that most of those startups lived by.

A recent job put the lie to this being about startups for me, though. The CEO seems to have these three myths as his mantra. He would make comments about the people who left “early” (although they might have been there for ten hours), who didn’t have the right spirit (even though they were working from home into the wee hours), and who weren’t contributing enough (even though he didn’t have a clue, couldn’t read code, and didn’t really understand what we were doing). He was proud of his MBA and his alma mater, and claimed success in startups.

Of course, this company was not a startup, did not have a clear vision of what it was trying to do, did not have any market research to support its product plan, and whose owner has no idea of what it means to be a leader.

These myths are not about teams, of course. They’re about managers, ineffective false leaders, and their failing attempts to get groups of people to work together as though they were a team, while actually creating dysfunction.

I think that Esther has done us all a valuable service, in identifying these three myths.

Look for them carved into the lintel over the door – if you see them, run!

6 Responses

  1. Twitter Comment


    “Taking action on an incorrect assessment can have devastating effects on the team” [link to post] (via @estherderby)

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  2. Twitter Comment


    RT @cory_foy: “Taking action on an incorrect assessment can have devastating effects on the team” [link to post] (via @estherderby)

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  3. Twitter Comment


    Steven List: Insights you can use: Three Myths about Teams Myth #1: All a team needs to get them working well to.. [link to post]

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  4. Twitter Comment


    3 Myths About Teams: [link to post] (via @estherderby)

    – Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. Gary Sherman says:

    Hmmm…sounds familiar…

    • Doc says:

      As it should, my friend, as it should. Now if only we could get those who most need to learn and to change themselves to grasp this…

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