Are we killing team performance by over-communicating?
The idea that we must communicate and include everyone in the team in every part of the project, all the time, is a classic example of a good idea that has gotten out of control.
Teams perform well when each team member:
- Has a specific job, not shared with others
- Is proficient at what they do, no learning curve required
- Has easy access to the resources, tools and information required in order to get the job done
- Clearly understands the group objectives and expected outcome
- Clearly understands how their input/output affects the other team members
- Is individually responsible and accountable for their performance and on-time results
- Is not smothered with controls and time wasting meetings
- Shares relevant information and communicates with those team members who need that information in order to do their job correctly
Analyze how a relay race squad works together. Each member has a specific and unique function, each member runs their part of the race alone, they expect their co-worker to hand them the baton at the right time in the right place, they all share the same goal and final outcome.
There is no stopping for meetings and communication between members during the race, there are no meetings with the coach halfway around the track to see how they are doing.
The runners do not stop to explain why they are passing the baton to only one member of the team.
The coach selects the qualified members of the squad and interacts with the team members before (preparation and focus) and after the event (evaluation of results), not during the race.
The focus of each team member is on doing their job efficiently and professionally, in order to reach the shared objective in the shortest time possible.
As a leader your mission is to identify the people with the best skills required for each part of the project, empower them by giving access to the right tools and training, build enthusiasm for the project and the other team members contributions, clearly identify the goal and the expected performance for their part of the project and let them do their jobs.
Encouraging communication between team members and leadership is only important and desired when it is focused and shared with those who really need the information to get the job done.