What Makes Teams of Highly Paid Experts Fail Miserably

You want to solve a serious problem, so you call in the big guns.

Assembling teams of experts to address tough issues – in business, healthcare, education and beyond – is a common approach when the going gets tough.

Putting together a team of people who are each an expert in their own field should create a dynamic group of problem solvers, right?

Not so fast.

Teams of experts are widely known to fail. And it is NOT a lack of expertise that causes the failure. It’s a deficit in communication skills that causes failure. In far too many cases, these wonder teams simply fall apart.

A paper looking into the characteristics of cross-functional teams, “Information Elaboration and Team Performance: Examining the Psychological Origins and Environmental Contingencies” was published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes in the July 2014 issue.

Lead author Christian Resick, Ph. D and Associate Professor of Management at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, sought to uncover the reason a team of highly skilled and educated professionals may fail as part of a group dynamic.

Collaborating with Toshio Murase and Leslie A. DeChurch of the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as Kenneth R. Randall, the researchers found the biggest setback preventing these teams from achieving their objectives was a lack of meaningful communication.

More specifically, according to the researchers, these power teams lacked “information elaboration” that would afford them the opportunity for success.

In other words…

They can’t effectively share what they know with others.

Resick notes that teams must provide the necessary information in a “rich and detailed manner” to both inform and inspire colleagues on the team. The inability to effectively communicate the importance or relevance of a suggestion leads to colleagues doubting the contributor’s value to the team.

The next time you’re working with a group of experts, look beyond their level of knowledge and assess whether or not they can communicate what they know. This is the key to productivity.

Successful teams are built through strong communication skills. Even the best ideas will fall to the wayside if experts fail to communicate their ideas effectively.