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Tag Archives: homogeneous team

Images of seagulls in a row depicting when a team is too similar

Every team is unique, which means every team encounters its own challenges and pitfalls. Sometimes communication between team members breaks down. Other times productivity dips due to colleagues not seeing eye to eye on a particular problem. But what do you do as a team leader when you are faced with the opposite problem? What do you do when your team members are too similar?

Strong teams rely on their members as individual engines of creativity, each with their own specific skillsets. While it’s not necessarily always an issue to have a team with overlapping abilities and points of view, a lack of diversity of thought can stifle creativity or hamper problem-solving. When Joe, John, and Jack all offer the same, incomplete solution, that’s a sign things need to change.

Being an effective team leader means being able to bring out the best in your team and point it in the direction that will allow you to accomplish your goals. So, if your squadron suffers from being too similar, you might want to consider some of these solutions:

1. Brainstorming Homework

Homogenous teams tend to lump together in groupthink if given the opportunity. A way to combat this habit is to isolate each individual team member’s strengths and abilities in an environment where they’re allowed to contemplate without the influence of their like-minded peers. Assign different tasks or divvy up a single task into components to each of your team members, and have them come up with solutions or ideas on their own. This can give better insight into each of the individual members’ limitations and quirks, and be used as a road map for what qualities or ideas to encourage folks to bring to the table at full team meetings.

2. Role Play

Sometimes team members can’t call upon different perspectives because they haven’t been given the opportunity to engage with them. Identify strategies or types of problem solving you would like to bring out more in your team, and give them the opportunity to utilize these methods in practice exercises. It may be helpful to bring in someone from another group or department familiar with the process to serve as a guide.

3. Switch Up the Roster

If there is a persistent problem in addressing challenges, the roster may be in need of some alterations. You can experiment switching out team members on specific tasks, bring in different staff for certain projects, or even bring on a new hire to inject energy into a complacent group. Variety and situational changes keep people alert and help draw their attention to the issues that are causing these changes.

4. Competition

Who says innovation can’t be a contest? Incentivizing behaviors is a timeless and effective way to instigate desired results. Offer a small reward for team members who are able to provide new or sought-after solutions to ongoing problems. If the desire is to correct a more systemic homogeneity, consider creating broader rewards for seeking outside collaboration or professional development that can be integrated into your team’s stagnant dynamic.

Team dynamics are tricky, and often problems are not resolved by any one solution. Try out a couple different strategies, and don’t give up if one doesn’t foster the changes you are looking for. As long your team is persistent and committed to growth, you will likely find an answer.

Margaret Smith is a career coach, author, Insights® Discovery (and Deeper Discovery) Licensed Practitioner, and founder of UXL. She hosts WORKSHOPS for people who need career or personal guidance.
NOW LIVE: Check out Margaret’s NEW online Leadership Course.

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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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