Part of the team

Lately I have been speaking with a few people on what is probably best described as team dynamics. In poorly performing teams the result for you may be confusion on where you sit in the team, arguments/disagreements with certain members or perhaps just annoyance at the attitudes or behaviours of those in your team. And this is regardless of you being the team manager or a team member.

 

If you’re trying to address something similar, just keep in mind that every team and situation is different and there are most likely subtleties or variations to the info below you will need to include.

The first theme was around team members who block team progress. Often members of the team have roles or skills vital to the success of the team and for whatever reason that person uses that power to stall the entire team’s progress. Maybe they don’t agree with the direction? Or are just annoyed at management? There are countless reasons why, and depending on the situation there may be many or only a few options to resolve it. One observation I have made over the years is that when the behaviour is coming from a peer, it generally goes unchecked by the team or is addressed in the wrong way. Forcing compliance or attacking views and opinions only adds fuel and distraction to the issue while ignoring it only prolongs the stress and damage. First – acknowledge that if the person was being constructive then they will probably have something to offer your team. And with that goal in mind, when your next as a group, state the attitude/behaviour you’re observing to them, the impact they are having on the group, and query them on what might be the problem. Whatever it is I am pretty sure it can be addressed. And it may end up just being the team hears and acknowledges their issue (unresolved) but they are also clear that they need to stop it for the teams sake. Failing that – identifying and clarifying with them the consequences of not changing their behaviour would be the next step (if required), which is applicable as a team member or manager.

The second theme was around uncooperative or unhelpful team members in a team you manage. In most cases I have found this leads back to one of two things; a perceived lack of authority or a lack of respect for it. Depending on your style there a varied approaches to this one; the end result needs to be clarity around the bad behaviour and an outline of the consequences if it continues. First though – realise the person may not be doing it deliberately or may even be aware of it. If it is the first time it is being addressed then that benefit of the doubt needs to be provided and reflected in your language and attitude. Secondly, just double check your authority is well understood as lack of role clarity sometimes contributes to this type of situation. The person is question may have a very different understanding of what they are suppose to be doing and not doing and what you are suppose to be doing and not doing. You may not have clearly established roles in the group VERY clearly. Also, the organisation may not have made your role clear and people don’t see your authority. And finally – clarify in your own mind the expectations you have and the next steps; if you’re a team leader or middle management then make yourself aware of how you will managing poor performance so you can articulate it confidently and clearly (this may involve clarifying it with your boss). If you are the boss, what is your policy and/or legal obligations.

Common to both these is clear, calm and specific feedback on bad behaviour, it’s impact and depending on the case, an outline of the consequences if it continues.

I hope you find that useful, either today or sometime in the future!

Jason

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