Managing Groups and Teams/Discipline

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So, how much should your team be disciplined? As team leader, are you wholly responsible? Clearly, whatever procedures and policies exist for your organization should be followed, but what if a team member is consistently late for meetings? Or if someone is social loafing? Should you be the one, as team leader, to correct the problem? Maybe not.

Balancing between disciplining your team and building your team can sometimes be difficult and is often viewed as two opposite behaviors. However, by building a stronger team, you can also develop a team that essentially self-disciplines. By building in mutual accountability into your team, the team will become self-disciplining. Team building, to this end, should focus on gaining common goals, purpose, and process.

Following the guidelines for team building can be essential in creating a self-disciplining team. Developing ground rules and assigning the task of ensuring each rule is followed to individual team members can be key. Additionally, spend some team time discussing and planning consequences for discipline. It can also be helpful for the team to create a visible method of logging or recording team measures, which should include:

  • the agreed standards to which the team is working to
  • how frequently each of the measures will normally be repeated
  • who should receive feedback on the results (this would normally be the team, but can include people outside the team if it is appropriate)
  • who is responsible for initiating the re-measurement process

Team fun should be planned around the goals (both short term and long term). For example, team building “ice breakers” are great only if they further the mission and function of the team. Select “ice breakers” based on goals for that particular meeting. Need to increase communication among members? Play a game of “telephone.” Need to work on creativity? Play a “think outside the box” game. Additionally, though, don’t de-value general bonding and getting to know team members. Supporting the team barbecue or coffee break can go a long way toward improving team morale, as well as creating a team that knows and trusts each other better.

In reality, though, teams may not easily become self-disciplining. How do you, as a team leader, then discipline a team in the real world without losing all the fun? If someone on your team is not pulling their weight, it is highly possible they are blissfully unaware of the problem. Find an appropriate way to talk to them about, be it during a team meeting (especially if it’s a concern with more than one member) or one-on-one, using a task-oriented approach rather than a personal one. Perhaps there is another issue that needs to be addressed that you are unaware of. One of the worse things you could do as team leader, though, is to ignore the problem – it will no go away or get better unless you can address it. Remember, too, that you may need to ultimately remove someone from your team, if there is no resolution, no solution, and the team and the team goal are suffering.

Finding that balance between fun and discipline is largely dependent on the goal of the team, and the situation and relationships of the team and you. It’s largely a personal choice – but a great team cannot exist without both. Ask for help from the team and share the responsibility of discipline. Keep track of expectations and progress and share the information with the whole team. Build the team to trust each other and perform for each other. Teamwork is difficult, but with a well lead team results can be fantastic, and yes, even fun.

Dictatorship vs Leadership · Team Personalities