What if your team sucks? What if for one reason or another they just don’t deliver? It can happen for any number of reasons, but usually over time you see some teams that just never really manage to improve. They just kind of linger in the “suck zone”.
How do you handle it? Whose job is it to deal with a situation like that? Is it the development managers responsibility? Is it something that the group VP needs to decide? Those are some of the most common roles that are called upon to make these difficult decisions.
Of course, that’s not an easy call to make. When a manager steps in to intervene in a situation like that, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. When a manager unilaterally takes action, say disbanding the team, then the other teams get the message. They know that they aren’t really empowered to do anything. At any moment a manager can sweep in and change whatever they want to. Not exactly a high safety environment.
What if there were another way? It occurs to me that teams could form a sort of team of representatives. A person chosen from each team. That team would get together periodically to review the performance of all of the teams. If issues are found, this group would be responsible for coming up with whatever remediation makes sense. The teams would be self-policing.
At the end of the day, there needs to be accountability. Teams that don’t perform, for whatever reason, can’t just drag on forever. They need to know that there is a group of their peers who are there to effect change if the team can’t manage it by themselves. It’s a team of equals, a jury of peers. A team can’t thrive unless there is some tension to perform. The question is, how can we provide this tension in a positive manner that doesn’t kill the team’s empowerment.