Sunday, 20 March 2016

Team Dysfunction - hints and tips for both leaders and team members

Hi you!
Great to see you back. You have a good weekend? Hope you did.

The subject of this post is in no way trying to be arrogant on my part, these are simply a few things I have learnt and thought a good idea to share. As always with my posts, take out of it what you find useful, dismiss what is not. I'm by no means an expert and the aim has always been to offer up my own learnings to promote sharing and empowerment. Feel free to add in your own thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

So this post is specifically in relation to teams that somehow lose their way, get caught up in frustrations of small issues which then eventually become near impossible impassable mountains.
Team dysfunction almost always increases individual anxiety, pushes up absenteeism, causes collective stress (and often perception changes) and generally lessens the team's effectiveness in working towards their common goal and reason for existing. More often than not, workloads go from "coping" to "impossible", even without actual workloads actually increasing.
I've been very lucky in my working career to have worked with a great many teams. I've run high performance teams and varying levels of dysfunctional ones right through to supposedly "broken" teams, those of which haven't remained that way for long.

The truth of the matter you need to realise is, there is no team that is ever broken or beyond repair. Same goes for the individuals within it. Sure, some people may be unsuited to their roles and be let go or encouraged to go elsewhere (as is the nature of business) but the main key is to realise that in the majority of situations;


There are usually other factors that prevent individuals from being positive members of their team.
Realising these key features (for both you as a team member or as the leader) can certainly help how the team progresses from that point on. Being aware there is dysfunction is half the battle.
The next key feature relates to the below picture - taken from works by "The Table Group's CEO, Patrick ​Lencioni - click to learn more.

If you are the leader of the team, in my experience it has always been vital to work on repairing each of these 5 dysfunctions via working both one on one with the team members and as the entire group themselves (so everyone hears the same thing).

Just as important, if you are the team member, it is your job to be aware of the dysfunction and work on addressing each of the issues for yourself within the team, as part of it. For instance​ with your new awareness of any dysfunction, you have to take some responsibility too and look at yourself. A team is only ever as strong as its members. What if you're inadvertently adding to the problems?

Good thing to try - ask yourself, are you (perceived or actually) any of the following people?

If you are, then the time has arrived do something about it. You didn't come to work to cause others problems did you? I'm betting heavily that you said no, of course not. The trick will be if you can be honest enough with yourself to answer accurately.

If you have been perceived as being arrogant, start being more empathetic, try to understand the challenges your fellow team mates are experiencing. Empathy is something I cover often. It is a solid method of seeing something from someone else's perspective. It can also change your own.

If you're the confused, make a list of the things you're confused about and get the answers you need. It's amazing how knowledge can deal with confusion. So many people dig themselves holes by not fronting up to say they dont understand something. Ask yourself a question - which is better? To know how? Or to pretend you know how? You get the drift.

If you're the panic machine, try and figure out why you feel this way all the time. A good tip is to deal in facts and logic more often than dealing with emotions. Emotions are good, but if they're causing you to panic with knee-jerk reactions, go with logic and facts about what is "actually" happening, not what you're afraid "might" be.

The Blamer - is nothing ever your fault? Are you absolutely sure about that? Not taking responsibility for your actions or your part in actions is determinantal to any team make-up. Like the arrogant one, employ some empathy and look around as to how people are reacting to you. You might be surprised.

The fearful.Ok, you, my friend, need to have more faith in yourself. Helps to know that fear often comes from a combo of confusion and panic that occurs in situations you think/feel you are ill-prepared for. Worst case scenario feelings. History can also be an influencer on you too. My best advice is to read some of my other posts. I have covered conflict, attitude etc some of which will hopefully assist you to take some of that fear and work with it more positively. All you need is a little bit of self-belief and to develop some trust so you can ask the questions for the answers you need to feel better. And trust me. You can do it, the world wont end if you admit your fears :)

If you are the leader of the team, it is always your responsibility to facilitate the changes these people will eventually want to strive for under your guidance and address the 5 dysfunctions of a team as represented in the pyramid.

Remember, no team is ever broken. Some do lose their way at times but believe me, success is never as far away as you might feel it is in the beginning.

Once you deal with the barriers causing dysfunction, your team will feel better about themselves as individuals and as their team.

Now this post just scratches the surface of what's possible.
If you would like to know more and some of this sounds like it might work for you, feel free to comment or email me.

As always, happy to help.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

An old story told new

The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn't understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move. “Sensei,” the boy finally said, “Shouldn't I be learning more moves?”

“This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the Sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the Sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.

This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be over-matched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the Sensei intervened. “No,” the Sensei insisted, “Let him continue.”

Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.

On the way home, the boy and Sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind. “Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”

“You won for two reasons,” the Sensei answered. “First, you've almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”

The boy’s greatest weakness had become his greatest strength.

Something to think about, right?
Are you sure that part of you, that you think is a actually a weakness?