There is a great African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Keeping your team united and strong at the best of times is a challenge. During a stressed economy, it is difficult. But, during this pandemic, a dysfunctional team is a nightmare.
In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni compares high performing teams to expert oarsmen. He wrote, "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." More than ever, right now companies need to be led by united teams. To thrive there is no room for dissent.
It's a given that during Covid-19 lock-down, many employees are starting their days stressed. If they are working in a toxic team, then stress levels may be over the top. Team discord leads to low job satisfaction, poor productivity, anger, despair, and physical ailments.
As certified partners in The Five Behaviours® we work with clients on trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. This unique project is the work of Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions and author Patrick Lencioni. Akin to a detox program, The Five Behaviours® is intended to get people singing from the same hymnbook.
In the event, you want to get your team members in the same boat and rowing in the same direction. Consider these points:
Leaders must initiate crucial conversations. The team leader’s ability to address team conflict is crucial to resolving toxicity. If the leader is part of the problem, another team member or someone from outside must initiate the conversation. The true mettle of a team is tested by how it deals with bad behaviours and violated expectations.
Focus on accountability and stopping bullying. Once a leader initiates the crucial conversations, team members need to join in and take responsibility for their roles in causing team toxicity. It is easier to blame and judge others than to look at one’s offences. Sometimes members bully one another to get their way. This can take the form of spreading rumours, making unfounded accusations, yelling, glaring, interrupting, undercutting, undervaluing, humiliating, or sabotaging other members of the team. This is a recipe for a miserable work environment, particularly in the current “zoom world”.
Work on communication, conflict, and problem-solving skills. Just as individuals can need help with personal relationships, teams can need help developing positive relations. Intense situations, people often make rash judgments and assign blame. Professionally facilitated sessions can help air basic issues and help make people better team members.
Create a shared vision and shared goals. Along with clear goals, a shared vision of the larger purpose behind those goals provides structure and direction and the context within which team members can make decisions.
Develop a social contract for team behaviour. Set ground rules for how members of the team will behave, make decisions, share information, and support one another. Social contracts set the norms for team interaction.
Recognize that disagreements should not ravage a team. Differences of opinion, respectful debate, and constructive conflict can make for a healthy team. Discussions and debates about serious issues can result in better team decisions. But if they get personal, they can be destructive.
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