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Team is too similar

When your team is TOO similar. Photo Credit: SoulAction.org

In a recent newsletter, I discussed the steps to take when your team is clashing. This week I’ll address a different problem: What do you do when your team is too similar?

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem. You all get along, the work feels easy and natural, etc. But too-similar teams can be just as ineffective as clashing teams. Why?

  • You might lack inspiration
  • Your team might get distracted with friendly chatting or gossip
  • You miss out on a variety of perspectives
  • The end product might be geared toward only one specific type of person

But how do you add a little spice to your team? This may be more complicated than fixing a team that is clashing. The first step to diversify and brighten-up your team is to bring the problem to the forefront. If people aren’t aware there’s an issue (or they know something isn’t working, but can’t figure out why), then they can’t work to solve it.

Secondly, ask for diversity. Reach out to others who you think have a different perspective than your current team’s perspective. Go beyond gender and ethnicity. If your group is quiet and reserved, consider a more outgoing, energetic type. If your group is great at generating ideas, but lacks practical application skills, recruit someone you know who is analytic and process-oriented.

Third, gain inspiration! If adding new and different people to your team isn’t an option, there are a few ways your team can gain inspiration:

  • Create a mind map (If you don’t know the basics, here’s a blog post explaining how mind-mapping works)
  • Conduct surveys and market research (gather outside opinions to bring in new perspectives)
  • Research similar projects and find out how those teams came up with a solution
  • Turn to social media (Post about what your team is working on and ask for feedback)

Fourth: If your team is just a little too friendly, impose restrictions. You might decide to split up the group and work in pairs for a while. Or you might set aside chat time at the beginning of the day (say, half an hour to catch up with everyone), then buckle down and get to work. Sometimes it helps to have a supervisor check on your team from time-to-time in order to motivate everyone to make progress.

If you’re still struggling with how to make your too-similar team click, feel free to contact me for more ideas. Best of luck!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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