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Don't give up early on team efforts

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Too often, managers give up early on struggling teams, says consultant Art Petty. On his Leadership Caffeine blog, he says his experience with IT projects, in particular, shows that it takes time for the team to learn what it needs about the challenge it faces, and to develop the teamwork needed to prevail. Thus it might erroneously seem the team is failing or has failed.

Mr. Petty offers five signals that a team deserves more time:

Team members don't point fingers or make excuses: Usually there is an inverse correlation between finger-pointing and success.

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They are distressed about the failure: If team members go beyond fear or embarrassment to be genuinely angry that they failed, it's a good sign.

They are adopting an Apollo 13 mentality: If the team is developing a "failure is not an option" attitude, that's another good sign.

They still want external validation: You don't want to irrationally pursue a no-longer valid objective. But if the original intent is still valid according to customers and the market, you may want to consider granting more time for the team.

They are hungry for insights: Instead of developing a bunker mentality and turning inward, the team recognizes the need for outside help and is pursuing it.

"Sometimes, good performance is just a bit further down the road. Don't discount how critical it is to give good people time to gel on big projects," Mr. Petty concludes.

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About the Author
Management columnist

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online column, Power Points. More

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