• Stephan Busch

Teamwork that fails is simply a management mistake


Teamwork was the topic of an interesting article that claimed that studies showed that teamwork is very often not efficient and productive at all.

In this article Teamwork was criticized for the following reasons

- the strong are pulling through the weak.

- The lazy ones, are pulled through by the hard working ones.

- The praise goes to the weak ones in the team as much as to the ones that did the job.

- The work process was slow because of the weaker links (staff) in the team.

Most surprising to me was that it seems today we need studies to come to that conclusion.

Sounds like a lot of problems for the staff and with the staff. But the problem is not with the staff! It is only the team leader who is the problem.

Hotel business is teamwork

In Hotels you see it far often that a new Manager comes in and starts changing the staff – the team.

The problem with teamwork is that in our business culture nowadays the goal of the team is not the most important anymore (you would be surprised how few companies actually realize this). It should be the goal and the team would work.

However most important is today how much benefit, praise, advantages can I – as a single person – get out of this project. How can I sell myself best and not the team. Here teamwork is already impossible from the start. I have witnessed many times great team work and I have seen a lot of those funeral like start ups were you knew that this won’t work.

The team leader is of course the most important person. But if he is really good nobody feels it. He assesses, judges his team members and assigns the responsibilities according to their skills experience and knowledge. Here he knows already the strong and the weaker ones and distributes workload and responsibilities accordingly. That’s why a manager joining new should first take time and learn about the staff before acting without a clue.

Be humble!

Even tough he is the team leader he has to be an honest team member too. Not the boss – just the leader, mentor and adviser. You have to be humble, lead, encourage, take the responsibility for mistakes and let the success be the teams success and not yours.

Here many times it goes wrong already. The leader who wrongly thinks he is the boss assesses, judges his team to decide first

who can help him most to achieve his target?

who can be blamed if something goes wrong?

who can be disposed of easily ?

who might be a problem for him?

Teamwork to survive

Any team feeling and spirit left to be developed? I think not! Compare it with the army. The team leader will have the goal to accomplish the mission and return home with his team. If he from the starts decides who can die and who better not it will be a fail. He will be much more careful as his own life depends on it. The team fails – he might be dead too. All might die and no sense to think before head on who should take the blame.

Teamwork that fails is simply a management mistake

The goal has to be the focused on. The weak ones and the wounded ones have to be taken home - and also in business it shows that the strongest can suddenly become the weakest and one of the weakest will show qualities to substitute that you never expected. But the goal will be to achieve the target – together! Teamwork that fails is simply a management mistake. There are other ways than to work than in a team . So choose something else. In hospitality teamwork is important.

Of course the more experienced the team leader the better. Every situation is new, every team is a total different mix of individuals then the last team you managed.

Teamwork is always different!

When I worked in Asia one day head office appointed a new expat restaurant manager. He came, promised me on the first day that he will bring them all up to 5* star level and started his business. Unfortunately he was one of the many average managers who thought too much of himself. Without trying to understand he acted right away. A terrible mistake not only when you deal with a different culture and don’t speak the language. Also in his home country – Germany – it would be like going into a pitch dark porcelain shop and trying to re arrange the shelves that you have never seen before!

I spend an hour everyday for a month to advise him, point out things he might consider to handle differently and help him. He didn’t listen and continued his way.

Revenues dropped, guest complaints increased and the staff started complaining and the first ones wanted to resign. I had to act. Head office wanted him to stay as he promised so much and impressed them with C.V. and his self presentation. So he had to stay.

I briefed the restaurant supervisors to translate his briefing no more but instead to brief them what I decided with them before hand. I had to play in his back but as he didn’t want to adjust, the office didn’t want him out of the way I had to play around him.

He stayed for almost three years. The restaurant was managed by the supervisors, revenues were great, guest satisfaction high and it was played so smooth by us that he never figured out why and how it worked. He was just proud. His annual reviews were filled out friendly by myself – he seemed to deliver, right? – and got changed to even look more positive by my superiors before they reached Head office. I was told that as successful as the restaurant was now it would look like a personal bias if I don’t write good reviews for him.

Finally head office promoted him. On his last day he came into my office and said: ”Did I promise you too much? It is up to highest standard and runs like clockwork! Did I do a great job!” I thanked him for the wonderful job he had done. In his new position he failed and got fired after a month! I continued with a great team that could work around any obstacles.

Teamwork is always different!

© 2017 by Stephan Busch