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How Do You Know When Your Team Is Disfunctional?


Oars Forward!

You know, I have been asked about why our name is Oars Forward. It comes from Patrick Lencioni’s Book “The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team”. Mr Lencioni compared a well functioning team to race sculling vessel. “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

We started with the notion that if the whole is is moving forward, they can get to their destination (their goal) much faster with greater efficiency.

What are some symptoms that your team is not all rowing in the same direction or even that their oars are hardly in the water?

Idea Sabotage

This is a hijack of good ideas and not letting new ideas see the light of day. This can happen by saying “This will not work well here” It can happen when someone says “We tried that 3 years ago and it failed” People can fight new ideas because it takes them out of their comfort zone. The point here is that a team coach and leader needs to be sensitive to how new ideas are received by the group and new ideas need to be explored regularly because the business environment is constantly changing. What was not viable three years ago may be very viable today. The coach must encourage open communications and discussions of new ideas and let them see the light of day. This isn’t to say you incorporate or act on all new ideas, it is just that you consider them and give the team member who is introducing the idea some air time to explain the idea and how they think it will help the team.People even stop throwing out new ideas and complacency sets in when new ideas are not given air time for the group to discuss.

Behavioral Stuff

Teams can begin to show dis-function when there are sub-groups with in the team that operate within their own silos. Communication is not shared openly with all team members and these silos that are formed hurt team morale and efficiency. What causes some of these silos to form? It can as simple as some off handed remark, passing judgement before an idea is fully explored. It can be passive aggressive behavior that can be defined as stubbornness, resentment, procrastination and repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks. When other team members see some one “getting away with it” it makes them question why they should need to be doing what has been asked of them. The idea of one bad apple spoiling the barrel and creating bad team morale comes to mind here. As the leader and coach, you need to jump on this and make sure it is apparent that expectations apply to all team members and not just a few. This needs to be enforced or the boat slows down and falters as it moves to the destination. Bullying within a team can not be tolerated. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their own actions and results. They need to accept responsibility for their outcomes.

Coach George Raveling -A living legend as a basketball coach and VP of Nike has a favorite saying “If it is to be…its up to me.” This is a great way to be accountable for your actions and results.

Communication Breakdown

The importance of communication in the team can not be over emphasized. The team will not agree on all ideas. Team members need to communicate with each other as often as possible. You as the team leader should be having minimum 1-1 meetings with everyone on your team at least once per week. For a free 1:1 template for this meeting Click Here

Monthly team meetings are important because the team can discuss common issues and events and team members can discuss things openly and present ideas to the team. People in the team can disagree agreeably.  Respectful debate and constructive conflicts can propel a team to new levels We recommend monthly meetings as a way to keep a team functioning at the highest level.  We have developed a monthly meeting checklist . If you would like to download it, Your Monthly Meeting Checklist  is here.

The way new ideas are treated is important and it is up to the team leader and coach to develop the framework and code of conduct for the team when new ideas are introduced and then what kind of discussions take place and how. Respect is key and the various team members that are in disagreement need to know how much time to allot for discussion and conflict resolution and then when to move one. These guidelines are set up by you, the team leader. This also includes a set of ground rules for behavior, making decisions,sharing and supporting new information and treatment of all team members. If you would like some further coaching guidelines and 20 things to help you coach better, Here is Your Coaching Checklist

Coaching a high performance team is one of the most gratifying and exhilarating things you can do as a senior leader. You can take pride in the development of your team and the team’s accomplishments. There are a number of things to keep your eye on but the more you re-enforce the expected behaviors and expectations, the more your team will exhibit them.  Check out more from our website  Oars Forward

Let me know how we can help you coach your team to greatness.

I wish you Good Coaching and Hope Your Team Is Rowing In The Same Direction!




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