On any team you have a variety of personality and behavior types working together. In most instances the team members have to learn to work with these different styles by default. What usually happens? Some misunderstanding occurs, conflict arises, someone starts to withhold or people start forming unproductive alliances which can all lead to discord. In his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni lists these as the most common ways teams get off track:
- Absence of Trust
- Fear of Conflict
- Lack of Commitment
- Avoidance of Accountability
- Inattention to Results
A team experiencing any one of these dysfunctions is challenged with effective productivity. These can occur on virtual teams as well as those working in the same location. We will discuss these dysfunctions in more depth in future blogs. We mention them here to introduce you to some of the various pitfalls of collaborative teamwork.
Imagine what happens if team members in a boat are not rowing together. The boat either zig zags or goes in circles. Have you ever been on a team that seems to keep covering the same ground over and over and over again? Team members can develop certain muscles to work out issues. Sometimes they are not the best muscles to be developing in service to a productive team.
In our work, we often notice team members responding personally to how another team member is acting. This leads to hurt feelings and disengagement. How people show up is about them. Yes, we can influence that by how we show up. Underlying how we show up is our preferred behavioral styles. How we use those styles is what generally impacts the results we are getting. However, unless you have participated in some professional or personal development activities, you may not have any idea what your behavior style is and how it is viewed by others. Developing this awareness about our team members and ourselves allows for more effective and fun collaboration and reduces the tension that can be present on a team.
You may be asking yourself,” why should I care? If people do not like the way I behave that is their problem.” If you work alone, never interfacing with other people, that may be true. Whenever we interface as a team, whether that is being part of a department at your company, working on a project with others, being part of a surgical team, or playing a sport, we are interdependent on one another to achieve the best outcomes. A team works collaboratively towards a shared purpose and each member of the team has his or her role or job that needs to be accomplished in order for the overall shared purpose to be achieved. Being able to recognize our behavior preferences, and those of other team members, allows us to have more objectivity when circumstances occur that can throw the team off track. It also reduces the time we spend taking things personally, which clouds our ability to see the reality of a situation. When we can reduce and use the natural tension of a team constructively it can spur creativity leading to higher productivity.
Remember that the function of a team is working toward a shared purpose. Deepening our understanding of our team members, and our behavior preferences, provides a strong foundation on which to build and support the team. This can be done through a variety of assessments, both individual and multi-rater, providing the information needed to create more effective, dynamic and productive teams.