5 Often-overlooked Actions That Can Hinder Team Performance

Our world continues to become increasingly connected, due largely to technology and its ability to create links between individuals within milliseconds. This phenomenon has bled over into the workspace, bringing its own set of advantages—and challenges. One of the consequences of this over-connectivity is the creation of microstressors. Microstressors are small moments of stress that accumulate over time through the number of interactions happening daily in the workplace.

Rob Cross, co-founder and current research director of the Connected Commons, has spent his career understanding how to break down organizational barriers. In his books Driving Results Through Social Networks and  The Microstress Effect, he explores the ways (with tools) in which companies can relieve employees from the undue stress caused by the organization and better leverage their capabilities

“We're creating roles. We're creating organizations. We're deploying strategies where leaders are just throwing teams intuitively at things. But people aren't 567 teams. And it's overwhelming. We're creating roles that are unsustainable, not because of the work, but because of the collaborative footprint around the work.” –Rob Cross

In a recent Outthinker Network Roundtable, a group of chief strategy officers (CSOs) convened with Rob to discuss how network connections and collaboration impact an organization’s performance.  

Five actions leaders often overlook that can create microstressors and impact performance:

1) Underutilizing talent on the edge and failing to recognize top performers
2) Creating collaborative overload for top performers
3) Poorly executing integration of new employees into the organizational network
4) Creating silos and breaking down collaboration that could lead to innovation
5) Failing to understand the demands of a strategic initiative, causing stress on execution

Underutilizing talent on the edge and failing to recognize top performers

A surprising study showed that there is less than a 50% overlap between the individuals an organization identifies as their top talent, and their actual talent. This means that over 50% of valuable talent in an organization’s network is often neglected, making them far more likely to leave, which is often reflected in attrition metrics.

Creating silos and breaking down collaboration that could lead to innovation

When teams are too disconnected and not given opportunities for collaboration, the space and time to co-create innovative solutions is limited. This undercuts their ability to innovate in specific ways. But while collaborative opportunities are important, the quality of those connections is just as impactful, so it’s important to design thoughtful, strategic networks that maximize efficiency. 

Creating collaborative overload for top performers

While collaboration is largely positive and creates opportunities for teams to create new solutions cross-functionally, too much collaboration can actually create more stress for individuals as they are constantly bombarded with requests from their teams. The result, particularly when you overload your top performers, is limiting their ability to focus on initiatives that will move the company forward.  

Poorly executing integration of new employees into the organizational network

Whether adding new hires or transitioning employees from a merger, integrating these new individuals into your existing network is vital. When new people are brought into an organization, it takes typically about 3 to 5 years to replicate the connectivity of a high performer. You want to understand where each individual will work best to strategically place them within your organization, enabling them to become a top performer. 

Failing to understand the demands of a strategic initiative, causing stress on execution

A final action that often causes undue stress on a team is failing to thoroughly understand the demands of a strategic initiative decided by leadership, then passed onto the team. When transitioning into a network-centric way of working, it’s vital that the demands being placed on individuals and teams be thoroughly mapped out, or else we risk creating roles that are unsustainable, not because of the work, but because of the collaborative footprint around the work. 

*Note* This article is a small preview of the full discussion between our Outthinker Strategy Network members. The full discussion with video clips, transcript and detailed notes can be found in the member portal.

Authors

Claudio Garcia
Claudio GarciaPresident - OSN
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Karina Reyes
Karina ReyesProduct and Content Specialist
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