No one is surprised by the statement, dysfunction will kill your team. But most of us confronted by its presence know what to do to stop it. In the next few minutes, I will outline some steps to do that.
Keep in mind that these aren’t rules. They are principles. Rules apply all the time. Principles apply in most cases, but there are exceptions. And when we are discussing team dysfunction, we are talking about something with variable causes and cures. What works with some teams may not work with others. My suggestion is to seek out the truth in the principles, adapt them to your team, and see if they help.
How to stop dysfunction on your team if you are the boss
- Communicate – in most cases, more than you think is necessary
- Honor your commitments – even when it requires personal sacrifice
- Encourage respectful disagreements about what to do and how to do it
- Allow no tolerance for disrespect, dishonesty, or behavior that results in disunity
- Cast a clear vision for every person and department
- Celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams
How to stop dysfunction on your team if you’re a member
- Communicate, don’t ruminate
- Support the needs of others – even when it requires personal sacrifice
- Be respectful in every encounter with others
- Seek a clear understanding of the leader’s vision and support it wholeheartedly
- Express your disagreement with the ideas and decisions of others, but do it with respect
- Be patient with your team members and leaders – they are only human too
- Celebrate the achievements of individuals and team
I don’t have time, and you don’t have the patience for me to dive into every one of these tips. I will, however, comment on the first tip for each role played – boss and team member.
Communication is the #1 cause of and cure for dysfunction at work.
When I manage teams, I struggle to meet the communication needs of the members. I expect team members to take ownership of their work responsibilities and get the work done. I strive not to micromanage. I hope that they are adult enough to work without direction every step of the way. I tend to be self-interested, and therefore I don’t think to tell people everything they need to know. It is a flaw in my personality.
But, when I fail to fight these flaws and when I fail to recognize that everyone needs good communication from leadership, I create dysfunction. People get mad at me, and our relationships suffer. That’s why I say that leaders, in most cases, should communicate more than they think is necessary. When you think you are communicating too much, you are probably getting close to the “just right” level.
From the other perspective, as a team member, I’ve ruminated way too often on what I perceived to be a wrong done to me, an injustice served, or an unfair decision made. But experience has taught me that the best course is to respectfully and humbly express my feelings in clear face-to-face conversation with the other person.
Usually, I find my perspective is wrong, or I do not have all the information. And in some cases, the other person sees the situation from an angle they had never considered, and they adjust. When I ruminate on the problem, I get darker, grow more emotional, and get less happy. This result makes everyone miserable.
How do you fight dysfunction in your team? Leave a comment. Let’s chat about it!
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