THE CAUSE and PERHAPS A CURE
Teams, all teams, do hit problems which may if not checked early lead to team inertia.
We have all witnessed and maybe even personally experienced at some time the debilitating nature of team inertia.
How does this phenomenon find fertile ground for its deadly work in even the most professional and highly organised team structures?
One likely reason is that the team dynamic is constantly changing dependant upon the mood swings and instinctive reactions of team members to every day business and life occurrences.
A successful team as we all know is one which attains its objective; the achievement of the team objective also being the individual aim of every team member for the duration of the team’s existence.
In a world where communication across continents is instantaneous it is not surprising that an event over which the team creator or the team leader has no control can instantly send the team dynamic into disarray.
Behavioural Scientists tell us that when participating as a member of a successfull team individuals may well in normal circumstances mask their basic desires, wants and needs for the benefit of the team.
They also tell us that successful team building leads to the team performance exceeding the perceived sum of its constituent parts; the skill, experience and ability levels of each individual member.
However when influences (particularly outside influences over which the team as a group has no control) begin to negatively impact upon critical project time constraints and quality benchmarks then pressure may build for some if not all team members, especially for the person responsible for the team or for the project which the team’s efforts support.
This is the time when situations which would normally be felt only as a mild irritation begin to cause upset, discord and a general lowering of team performance standards and morale.
When this happens then the normal team members niceties tend to be brushed aside as some team members do their utmost to prove that they at least did their part and have no intention of having their own professional credibility besmirched as a result of the teams collective poor performance.
This is when it becomes apparent that even a team which has performed well in the past can hit performance problems.
Why is this?
It could be because the team members were selected for their specific expertise and levels of experience relative to the end objective rather than for the behaviours necessary to help the team successfully negotiate the path to the end objective.
A good example of this is the Apollo Syndrome phenomenon discovered by Dr. Meredith Belbin where teams of highly specialised and capable individuals do often in fact perform badly.
What is often overlooked is that within a team of say 8 people there are no fewer that 28 1:1 unique relationships in existence. Once one takes account of this fact then it is no great surprise that from time to time that teams do run into interpersonal relationship difficulties.
These then lead to the birth of issues which negatively affect total team performance.
When the team is created there is every chance that these unique relationships are not taken into account when determining the final team make up.
That is in itself not surprising as the amount of time which would have to be devoted to such a time tied task is huge.
Or is it?
Extremely useful tools for assisting in this regard have been developed over the years, it is a sad fact though, for the reasons mentioned earlier, that no matter how careful one may be in putting a team together the team dynamic does change with the passage of time.
Many of these changes will of course be positive and for the good of the team and enhance its performance.
It is also true that some of the changes may lead to the team performance slippage. This can be a very difficult and stressful time for all concerned.
There is an interesting software package being developed which is designed to help the leaders of teams in difficulty. This online system identifies over 400 issues which may cause a teams’ performance to drift and falter.
Using the outputs of behavioural profiling tools such as Belbin, Myers Briggs and DISC this online system promises to be of huge advantage to team leaders searching for a pathway back to positive team performance.
The system does though allow such outputs as mentioned above to be disregarded as the Bio Data held for some members may be some years old and therefore unreliable.
Of course should the free DISC profiling system be used for all members then the Bio Data would indeed be current.
It should be noted here though that certain team members may be unhappy about completing a behavioural profiler, particularly at a time when the team is in difficulty.
In such a circumstance the system may be set to select at random someone to lead the team through the issue, or the team leader or facilitator may indeed fulfill the role.
The facilitator (who may or may not be a member of the team to be observed) is appointed to watch the team in action and make note of any negative issues which arise.
The facilitator then accesses the teamfacilitate system and selects the issues in question. They also identify for the system those team members directly involved in the issue.
The system will then interrogate the Bio Data (if used) of the team members and identify the team member most suited to lead the team through the problem solving procedure.
The person chosen by the system may or not be the actual person responsible for the team.
Teamfacilitate will automatically produce a list of suggestions for the person responsible for the team; a list of suggestions for those team members directly involved in the issue; a list for team members not involved in the issue; also a list for the person determined to be the most appropriate person to lead the team through the issue.
These communications are then emailed to team members using their own email address and giving them a unique password for future reference.
This then gives all team members a platform dialogue from which to start. The team leader and the person selected would then most likely compare notes in advance of running a meeting designed specifically to overcome the identified problem.
The meeting itself will be chaired by the person selected to lead the team through the issue and run to their published agenda.
The result is that the team talk the problem through instead of letting it fester away in the background continuing to cause team malaise.
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