Three signs your team is starring in Groundhog Day

imgresRemember the 1980’s comedy classic Groundhog Day?  Bill Murray stars as Phil Connors who re-lives February 2nd over and over.  Comedy ensues as our main character continues with mistake after mistake until that magical turning point in the movie when the proverbial light bulb goes off in his head.  He learns his life lesson and the calendar finally advances to the following day.  And as they say, “everyone lives happily ever after.”

I watched this recently on a 80’s movie marathon and of course laughed a lot but it also made a light bulb go off in my head.  Could it be that teams and businesses are starring their own version of this film?  And unfortunately, I would bet it’s not as funny as the original.  How often do they feel like they are living the same week or month over and over again in the organization with no results?  These three warning signs may point you to your own movie set.

We hold meetings to schedule more meetings.
Let’s face it.  If your business is like most, some degree of meetings is necessary to get work accomplished.  However, oftentimes we get lazy with time management and efficiency and before you know it, those meetings slip into the time-waster category.  Why, I’ve even seen some teams schedule a meeting in order to schedule another meeting!  So what is at the root of this problem?  Our meetings have become stale and too comfortable.  And when that happens they lose effectiveness. So you ask yourself (and your team) these questions:  Does every meeting include a purpose (we know why we are meeting)?  Does every meeting include a timed agenda that is distributed prior to the meeting (so everyone knows how to be prepared)?  Do our meetings start and end on time (we reinforce promptness and don’t enable tardiness)?  And finally, do we recap at the end of the meeting to ensure next steps are clear (everyone knows what happens next)?  When those questions receive a “yes”, the feeling of Groundhog Day diminishes.

We don’t completely fix our problems.
“We will look into that,” is a common phrase employees hear. And it’s a phrase often said with the best of intentions.  We really do mean to fix a complaint or address a suggestion made by employees but all too often, our focus must shift to the emergency of the day and those promises to address a problem remain left undone.  It’s interesting, I believe employees want to forgive us for those instances of good intent; however when the follow-through continues to drop, the frustration kicks in for the team.  So what are the signs this may be happening with your team?  Do the same or similar issues keep recurring?  If so, you may be addressing a symptom of the problem and not the root cause and the result is band-aids on much more complex problems.  Band-aids will always be short-term.  It’s okay to create short-term solutions; but ensure your team knows that.  The gap between “I thought this was going to be addressed,” and short-term solutions is where that Groundhog Day frustration appears.

We can’t see to make up our mind.
Finally, the subtle culprit to Groundhog Day teams is a lack of decisiveness.  In today’s fast-paced marketplace, feeling 100% confident about any decision is nearly impossible.  Yet, for some leaders, your DNA makes it tough to commit to an action (whether that is to start or even stop a particular action).  This lack of delay is actually a decision in itself.  No decision is a decision.  And when important decisions are delayed, momentum halts on the team.  They felt like they were  finally making progress then WHAM!, everything halts, and the team feels like it is going backward.  Slowly, the feeling of “we’ll never move forward” creeps into the team.  And once again Groundhog Day lives on your team.

So, lights…camera…action!  You know, your team should be starring in a movie.  But let’s choose one where they are the heroes that save the day!  Who’s with me?

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