You may think everyone knows who is in your team, and who isn’t, but think again.
Abe, a member of “Alpha” product development team in an established global software firm, sat frustrated as he read the onslaught of criticism from his teammates on a presentation he had recently made to the board on their behalf. The board had turned down Alpha’s new project, and his teammates were calling his presentation incomplete and off target, claiming he had ignored some of their most important arguments. This bewildered Abe as he had met with each member of the team individually the previous week, asking for comments on his draft. Betty explained that Abe had not included any of the arguments Chris and Denise had made. “Why should I?” thought Abe. “Chris and Denise are not even on the team.”
This scenario is more commonplace than executives care to admit in today’s workplace. And yet, it is increasingly inevitable as we put teams in place that: a) are dispersed (crossing distance, time zones, languages, and/or cultures), b) include members shared across multiple teams or projects, and c) are dynamic – with members frequently added and dropped piecemeal based on when their particular expertise is necessary. These three trends are increasingly resulting in teams with misaligned perceptions about who’s in the team and who isn’t.