A Dysfunctional Team

We were asked to help a broken leadership team to mend itself.  We completed the ‘usual’ research, speaking to the team, their reports and some of their client groups to understand the situation.  The causes of the problem rapidly became apparent :

  • individual objectives and priorities that weren’t aligned;
  • different ways of working; and
  • a lack of trust in each other.

We worked with the HR Business Partner and the team’s Director to develop a one day programme that would lead to some simple commitments that the team could hold themselves to.

The day focused on identifying and agreeing  :

  • the shared values they had – and understanding their differences
  • the dysfunctions in the team – we used the assessment in Patrick Lencioni’s book to help the discussion
  • what their clients needed from them and what they wanted to be known for – their individual and team brand.

The team were all experienced leaders, but the pressure they were under had got to them.  The day allowed open, constructive conversation and agreement to a way forward.

The simple commitments to each other – attending and being prepared for meetings, sharing information in a timely way outside the formal sessions – these all happened.  The feedback from their clients and team was that they were getting consistent messages from each leader and their team and were far easier to work with. The trust had started to come back.


What teams want to be known for

I often work with teams.  Some are new, some old.  Others are performing well and want to be even better.  Others aren’t. It might be conflict, lack of leadership, personal and group fortitude, poor direction or that they are a new group working their way to becoming a team.

One thing that is always true is that everybody there has been in a team before. That could be a work or sports team, a club, some volunteering activity or at school.  All are from some form of social grouping, whether it is because they happen to live under the same roof or because they are a tight knit family where everything is known and understood.

So, nowadays I tend to get bored with having to establish behaviours and Ground Rules at the start of a team session.  I want us just to be honest about what good and bad behaviour is and which we want to have.  That sounds like a slightly pathetic plea along the line of “why can’t we just love each other ?”  and my practical, pragmatic nature won’t allow that. So, I’ve tried to find a simpler way in, and found this Class Charter in a quick search.

I’ve now used this a couple of times and it says everything about what a team is – and what it should be known for, by its members and others that have any interaction with it. People haven’t felt that it is patronising.  They like the simplicity and clarity.  Everything in it can be ‘translated’ to any team and it seems to last beyond the session. It becomes their team brand.
If you are interested in this (not original) approach and want to share your ideas – get in touch.