Painful Team Dysfunction? Your Guide To Change Is Here

Hello there, leader of all things awesome. It’s pretty rare that a blog posts acknowledges the ‘who’ in terms of you, so hello.

Now, whether you have team dysfunction, team performance challenges or are just looking for that performance edge we’ve got you covered.

We’ve worked with a number of teams over the last few months across sectors to:

  • Find and remove dysfunction
  • Facilitate the tough conversations that have hindered team performance
  • Take good teams and help the team find its way to being great

The results? Decreased disengagement (disengagement is a killer), increased engagement, reduced bullying / attrition and improved financials. What’s not to love?

The way we’ve done this (sharing some of the secret sauce of the approach) can be broken into the steps below.

1. Up-skill for ability

There are a few fundamental EQ based skills that team members must possess to get things humming along. So much of the friction in teams stems from a skill deficit. Some of the key skill development areas you have to get each team member across are:

  • How to have crucial conversations (difficult conversations)
  • How to communicate effectively across channels (email, phone, face to face)
  • How to understand their own values and what to do when they are in conflict with others

You can do this beforehand or as part of the process, but it’s d@mn near impossible to have a high functioning team where any of the team members lack these skills.

2. Behaviour alignment

By my experience, I’ve found the values painted / plastered / mounted on the wall in 8/10 of the organisations I’ve worked with. With that comes a litany of issues:

  • Can everyone name them?
  • Do they have supporting statements?
  • What are the behaviours that bring those values to life?

The last question is the one that we spend the most time on when tackling team performance. If one of our values is honesty and another is service, what statements sit underneath those so I can navigate the tension between them?

An example of that conflict can be when a customer receives poor service (service value) because we forgot to do something. Telling them that we forgot (honesty value) is the honest thing to do but would result in even worse perceived service (service value). Crap…

That’s a really simple example for the sake of brevity, but you can see how seemingly easy values can cause tension, misinterpretation and team dysfunction in the team.

The way we’ve tackled this is to stress test with real scenarios in the room, then put together the Behaviours Contract on what the team agrees those values really mean in the form of actionable behaviours.

This requires a fair bit of work, but the shifts in team outcomes have been phenomenal. This document then lives and breaths in all of your meetings, conflicts and chats as the way of working together.

3. Aligning roles

After going through the first two steps, you might find the team has suffered in its ability to perform due to a lack of role clarity. This can be as simple as missing items on the JDF (if you are into those kind of things) or as difficult as not having any clear remit for what someone’s job really entails.

You’ll have to help the team through that reset and get agreement from each person on the revised role definition.

4. One-on-one coaching

So you’ve done all of the hard stuff, right?

Well, mostly.

The last step is coaching through any individual challenges, opportunities or flat out refusals to get on board. Some times this leads to people resigning because they don’t share the vision and values, and that’s fine. Other times (more often than not) you see people energised and achieving things the team hasn’t before.

You have to be comfortable (or have coaching support) to have these tough conversations.

Bonus: fringe impacts

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. That we’ve one through this process, there have been fringe benefits that make a huge difference beyond the scope of this project. Examples have included:

  • New clarity around broken systems that need immediate attention
  • New ideas / opportunities for innovation
  • Better cross-team performance (to other teams in the organisation)
  • Better individual performance since the team’s standard has now lifted all players

Making team impact in your own team

Taking a well considered approach to this team reset will make all of the difference. There is some nuance / other considerations to this process, but the gist of it has been outlined above.

Whether you are going it alone or need a partner in crime (like us), planning and follow through are key to getting it right. Want to chat about enhancing your team performance (while removing the pain)?

Click here to book in a 15 minute phone chat.

You’ve got this!

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