Cheerleaders, Hecklers and Coaches: How to Encourage Teamwork

iStock_000029080006SmallYour team has been slaving away on a presentation for weeks. One of your colleagues has continued to drop the ball… time and time again. At this point, time is the one thing you’re running out of. Well, that and patience. Now you have a choice to make. You have to respond, because you can’t afford not to. But HOW do you encourage teamwork without turning a blind eye to performance issues?

Here are three perspectives you can choose from when dealing with an underperforming teammate:

  1. Cheerleader
    You can point out all the positive things your teammate has contributed. Avoid the negatives, because you don’t want to ruin morale at this crucial juncture. Hopefully, all the positive energy will motivate him to get his act together. “You can do it, yes you can!”
  2. Heckler
    You can make sure everyone knows the mistakes your teammate has made. This way, if the project fails, everyone will know exactly why it did. They also will know you saw it coming. You can seek to present yourself as the smart, critical individual. Don’t encourage your teammate to contribute another way, because she apparently is a liability that needs to be isolated. “Hey bum! Get off the field!”
  3. Coach
    The mentality of a coach is different than the cheerleader who simply wants to point out the positives. The coach has invested into the team. She is closer to the team. She’s less worried about what the people in the stands are saying, and more concerned with what’s said in the huddle. He’s also different than the heckler. He might point out something negative that has happened, but gives insight into why it happened and what can be done to correct the issue. He faces the brutal realities, but does so with hope for a better outcome. He may push the team, but it is a challenge – not an insult.

Taking the mentality of a coach doesn’t mean you have to be a manager or team lead. Athletes are praised for their leadership on the field all the time. Still, be sure to understand the dynamics of your team and how to give constructive feedback.

What do you think of these perspectives? Is anything missing? How do you give feedback to your colleagues or employees?

Dustin Staiger is a business consultant and speaker in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, communications, creativity and branding for global corporations as well as non-profits and start-ups.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.