4 Ways to Identify Team Dysfunction

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(Inc. article) Tired of dealing with team problems? Try these four steps to quickly identify and eliminate team dysfunction.

Very few tasks are completely in isolation for today’s leader. Leaders harness diverse resources and collaborate across functions. In fact, my favorite definition of teamwork is “connected independence”. The success of most organizations is directly proportionate to their leaders’ ability to inspire excellent teamwork.

High-performing teams, consciously apply the Team Effectiveness and Alignment Model (TEAM).

As a leader, do you know for certain that your team members are clear about their goals, roles and procedures? You may find that lack of clarity masks itself as a lack in initiative or team-player attitude.

Lack of clarity opens the door for misperceptions that can lead to interpersonal conflict. For example, if team members do not agree or understand your common goal, they might start accusing each other of having personal agendas. Or if team roles are not clearly defined, one of them might think the other dropped the ball. And certainly, if procedures are unclear, team members might easily become frustrated with bottlenecks, re-doing tasks, and missed handoffs.

Clear goals, roles and procedures eliminate over 90 percent of team problems that often appear as interpersonal conflict on the surface. However, this conflict is typically just a symptom. Use the diagnostic questions below, starting with goals, you will quickly identify the root cause of team dysfunction.

TEAM Questions

Goals:

  • Does the team have a clear vision?
  • Do the team members buy-off on it?
  • If not:
    • How was the vision presented to the team?
    • Was the team involved in creating the vision?
    • Does the team perceive a direct connection between its goals and the mission of the company?

Roles:

  • Are the roles clearly defined and documented?
  • Are the manager and employee’s role expectations consistent?
  • Is the level of authority for the role clearly defined?
  • Do the current role definitions efficiently support your team processes?
  • Do the roles conflict, overlap or leave important tasks unattended?
  • Does each team member have the necessary skills to effectively perform his/her role?

Procedures:

  • Are there clear processes on how the team will:
    • Make decisions
    • Share information
    • Coordinate hand-offs
    • Review work
    • Challenge prevailing thought
    • Prioritize
    • Resolve conflict
    • Support each other’s efforts
    • Be recognized?

Relationships:

  • Is there a reasonable amount of (job-related) respect amongst team members?
  • Do team members know and appreciate the different knowledge, skills and perspectives that each of them brings to the team?
  • Do team members trust each other?
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