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Unstuck your Team

Unstuck Your Team

Teams frequently get stuck. While different than complete dysfunction – but sometimes a precursor – teams may become challenged and stagnant for various reasons. In the worst case scenario, they remain stuck and become dysfunctional, and so identifying a stuck team and getting it unstuck is an important responsibility for a leader.

In Patrick Lencioni’s book, “5 Dysfunctions of a Team,” he provides a model that explains how and why teams become dysfunctional. The team at Emergent flips these 5 “Dysfunctions” to “Functions” of a team, and that list begins with trust. Let us reverse-engineer the problem, starting with trust, from a dysfunctional team toward a more functional team.

Trust becomes the foundational element of any relationship, including those of teams. Without trust, we are unable to work at higher levels of accountability; we persistently find ourselves working in and with conflict – negatively impacting results. It presents itself in many ways, and Stephen Covey, in “The Speed of Trust,” provides 13 elements of trust. That’s a lot to keep in mind at one time, and therefore it takes some practice and diligent awareness.

Stuck teams can still function… that’s part of the challenge as a leader in recognizing the slippery slope from stuck to dysfunctional. Following are some signals and clues to help you discern “stuck” from “dysfunctional.”

  • Stuck teams attend meetings and still have energy to struggle and fight through conflict, often creating some hurt feelings and – equally as bad – ineffective performance.
  • Dysfunctional teams will spend their energy to create “artificial harmony” by passing over conflict quickly, denying anything is wrong and then working things out in silos and independently.
  • Stuck teams get work done with one another; however, they will begin to pull some work back to individual contributors.
  • Dysfunctional teams will resist delegating, collaborating and sharing workload. They may even adapt tools, systems and processes that facilitate sharing work but will avoid using them.
  • Individuals in stuck teams may seek recognition for being the best in the team, while individuals in dysfunctional teams spend a great deal of effort on managing their own egos, value and self-worth within the team while the attention to the work results of the team are ignored.

Many of these indicators are quite common, and whether your teams are stuck or dysfunctional, it’s not too late to do something about it.

To learn more about team dynamics and building stronger teams, reach out to the functional team at Emergent.

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