Your people tell you earnestly that they can complete a project themselves: that they don’t have anything against any other team but that they’ll finish the project on time and correctly if they can work by themselves. Should you let them?
Here are the possible causes for their isolationism and steps you can take to find a workable solution.
Your team is overconfident, maybe even arrogant. If the other team really is weaker, back off. On the other hand, if your team could learn a thing or two from the others, have a few members of your group meet with a few members of theirs and talk about how they might help each other. If the other team is good, it should impress (or at least soften) your people. Keep everybody focused on the mission.
Your team has trouble working with other teams. Bring the two teams together, and let the other team tell yours what it needs from them. Then, your team will describe what it needs. Make sure the mutual benefit is clear. Keep the discussion on how each team can help the other, by when and how. You might need a facilitator the first few times, and you’ll definitely need deadlines.
Your team really can handle the project alone. Before anybody decides that, find out whether your team is ducking a problem or whether it truly has the required skills to fly solo. It may be worthwhile for your group to go it alone—even if you’re talking about a major “stretch” assignment—as long a supper understands and agrees with the plan.
Bottom line: Your team needs to assess itself honestly. That’s just as difficult as it is for any individual to take a good, hard look in the mirror. Helping your team objectively gauge its motives, capacity and goals is one of your most important jobs as a team leader.
— Adapted from Team Leader’s Problem Solver, Clay
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