Sometimes teams are moving along nicely when suddenly they stall. It may be they are no longer meeting goals. It could also be that relationships have fallen apart and the team is filled with tension. In those situations you’ll need to get things moving again. Here’s how to do it.
The most important question you can ask in this situation is “What’s the real problem?” A stalled team is just a symptom. Now the challenge is to figure out what is going on. It could be many things. There are three steps I take when I work with a stalled team. If you are not in a position to initiate them, suggest them to the team leader.
- Name the symptom. If you know the team is stalled, most of the others probably recognize it too. Unfortunately, my guess is that nobody has vocalized his observation for the group. I suggest sharing your opinion that the group is stuck. Just say it out loud and watch what happens. Chances are you will hear a big sigh of relief that someone finally pointed out the obvious.
- Determine what the problem is. Start with a discussion. Ask every team member to respond to the simple question, “What do you think is creating our problem?” Chances are somebody has already figured it out. Again, having someone name the problem is helpful. As ideas are shared, you will know you have hit the right one when all the heads start nodding up and down.
- Create an action plan. Use a standard problem solving process to improve the situation. Understand the source of the problem. Brainstorm potential solutions. Select the solution that is most likely to fix the problem. Implement your plan. Follow-up later to see if the problem has been corrected.
Teams can and do stall. Your job is to make sure they don’t remain abandoned along the side of the road.
Image credit: andrigbulba