Pitfalls to Avoid in Creating and Leading Teams

Originally this was written for a workshop called ‘Long Term Implementation of Lean Six Sigma within Organizations’ … and with some changes the content is applicable and valuable to anyone who manages, works on, and puts work teams together.

It is important to differential between Teams and Teamwork.

Groups may require teamwork even when they do not need to work as a team.

10 Pitfalls to Avoid in Creating and Leading Teams www.mikecardus.com

10 Pitfalls to Avoid in Creating & Leading Teams …and some ideas of what to do about it.
1. Failure of Management to be involved in each step of the team’s work.

2. Failure to Write it Down

  • What gets written down gets done.
  • Teams and leaders that develop a written plan for work that is to take place between meetings are far more likely to complete the work and achieve Project Charter Milestones than those that don’t.
  • Teams must keep detailed, documented, and reviewable action plans.

3. Failure to Formalize and Communicate Rewards and Recognition for the Teams Work

  • Team projects must create returns and have tangible effects to showcase the application of teams’ work within the organization.
  • Establish and formalize a reward and recognition plan for team project participants before or shortly after the project starts. Recommendations are vacation time and awards banquet.

4. Ignoring the Potential of “Converted” Resistors

  • People have legitimate reasons for resistance.
  • Almost 80% of resistors become supporters when the source of their resistance is taken seriously.

5. Failure to Assign Your Best and Brightest

  • For this project and team work to be taken seriously your best people must be on the team.
  • Improving the team dynamics of your high performers will increase overall organizational effectiveness.

6. Failure to Utilize Ground Rules in Team Meetings

  • Having and reinforcing shared ground rules will make your meeting shorter and more effective.
  • This is not a hollow exercise. Team culture is created through the discussions and reinforcement of ‘what works’ … The team needs to know the acceptable rules and feel comfortable enforcing them.

7. Using Facilitative Leadership to Eliminate Personality Differences

  • A key component of team work is dealing with maladaptive behavior.
  • In marriage and Project Teams an appreciation for individual differences contributes to compatibility of values and beliefs.
  • You are not a psychologist

8. Jumping to “Divorce” too Early

  • We can learn a great deal from resistance to Team Projects.
  • The odds are good that the resistance is normal and if treated respectfully they will turn into a valuable team member.
  • Once we de-select a person from the team OR we choose to stop a project from excessive resistance, it is visible to everyone and a win-win is no longer achievable.

9. Expecting Teams to Solve All Organizational Issues

10. Intervening Too Much

  • At times it is more important to know when not to intervene with a team.
  • If you are working harder than the person to solve a problem, you are enlarging the problem yourself.


The 10 Pitfalls are from ‘Six Sigma Team Dynamics’ George Eckes

What do you think?

Which of the 10 pitfalls and some steps to avoid them are applicable to your team? Which 2 are you doing really well…what are you doing that makes you believe that?

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