Thursday, 21 August 2014 14:31

Teams in Trouble

When a new team comes together, or an existing team deals with change in function or membership, it can be a while before things settle down. Differences of opinion, arguments and power plays are part of the natural process and often involve emotionally charged and difficult conversations.

It’s the predictable ‘stormin and normin’ phase of team development. Many teams grow through it to become smooth running productive units. Relationships become trusting and respectful; conversations are rational and constructive. Other teams get stuck in the process and sometimes never reach their full potential.

A background of heavy workload, tight deadlines, budget constraints and difficult market conditions makes it all more hazardous. At first upsets and disagreements are hidden, shrugged off, brushed under the carpet - but not forgotten. Then tension in relationships starts to show up as cold shoulders, short tempers, tantrums and other toxic behaviour. Conversations that attempt to clear up the problems often make them worse, not better.

It’s a situation that develops conversation by conversation and can only be unraveled the same way.

There are various possible sources of data on the problem.

  • The senior manager’s insight
  • Group discussion with the team
  • Individual conversations with key people or with each team member
  • Culture and employee surveys, 360 assessments 

Each member of the team needs insight into the process of team development and how constructive conversations can be designed to deal with virtually any team problem. This input is most economically provided in a group setting.

Over a period of 8-12 weeks each person applies the skills to their own key conversations. Coaching is provided to support and review the process, one on one, or in small groups of two or three. In this period skills are developed and applied so they start to become ingrained habits, creating or recreating the culture of the team.

At the end of the 8-12 week application period the team reviews its progress, agrees on its successes, areas where it still needs deliberate focus, and any further inputs required.

If you have a team in trouble contact Maureen on 082 601 2807 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

More in this category: « How to hold people to account

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