The 4 key points Harold makes are:
1. Is the dysfunction really a dysfunction
2. Know the cardinal symptoms of a dysfunctional team
3. Healthy teams look after themselves
4. It all starts with trust
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Ask Harold Episode 6 Transcript:
Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here. Thank you for joining me on episode 6 of Ask Harold. On this episode, I will answer a question from a viewer who is on a dysfunctional team and wants to know what to do.
On our sixth episode, we have a question from Chris who believes he’s on a dysfunctional team – who hasn’t been? – and wants to know what to do. So let’s read Chris’s question here:
“I’m pretty sure that I’m on a dysfunctional team and it’s driving me crazy. I’m not sure if anyone else on the team really understands how bad it is.
There’s always a lot of tension and bickering. We rush to decisions, sometimes just to get the conversation over with. And the thing that really makes me think that we’re dysfunctional is how we don’t have each-other’s backs when it really counts.
There is very little trust. I’m not sure if anyone else on the team really understands that we have a serious problem.
How do I raise this with them? Especially if they don’t see anything wrong.”
Well, Chris, that is an important question that we all can relate to – any time you work on a team with human beings, get ready for some imperfection. Everybody comes to work with the best intentions, the bottom line is that teams can really work harder to make sure that they get things across the line without having to exert a whole lot of undue extra effort and dysfunction in the process.
So let me walk you through 4 points, Chris, that I’d like for you to keep in mind:
1. Is the dysfunction really a dysfunction? Again, I would suggest that there’s always going to be a bad patch – people have bad days and those types of things. A dysfunction is typically manifested through a pattern. You end up back in the same place: every 3 or 4 weeks you’re revisiting the same issue, it seems that you’re avoiding talking about things and you know you’re working harder than you need to. Just keep in mind, there’s going to be a few wobbles even with the best of teams and so if it’s a dysfunction you really need to dig in to, and if that’s the case, then:
2. Know what the cardinal symptoms are. That’s the second point, Chris. Poor quality relationships typically suggest a dysfunctional pattern under a team. That is, people not investing in relationships where they really don’t feel that they, to use your line, “have their backs”, where people really do question whether or not they can be open and candid, and confide in each other.
Is a team able to surface conflicts? Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the team is overly polite, and then sometimes the team may be overly brutal. Both of those are indications that there hasn’t been enough trust built around the relationships.
The third symptom is: just an unwillingness to commit, where they go back and get their other teams, what they sometimes call their “real team”, to work around some decisions that have been made. This makes it harder than it needs to be.
The fourth thing around the symptoms is: primary loyalties reside elsewhere and there’s not really a loyalty to the team.
You add all of that up together and you get poor results. And that’s how you know, particularly if it’s a repetitive pattern that you’re stuck in this thing and you’ve got to really address it.
3. Now Chris, the third point I want to make to you is: healthy teams look after themselves. And this is just like you, or anybody else who knows that it’s better to be proactive about your health – otherwise you’ll end up reacting in that type of a situation. It is no different than you making sure, before a long road trip, that you have your car tuned up sufficiently because it’s about to go across a long stretch of road. Well teams go across long stretches of road where, really, it’s important to focus on the well-being before, certainly, than afterwards. And so you don’t want your team to be in a reactive place and sometimes you really need to think about a team as a living organism, almost like a person in that respect, and you want to look after it. So get the team to really think about conversations focused on its wellness as being about an opportunity vs a threat. It’s not about “we’re bad and horrible”, but it’s about “we can do so much better”, and that’s a different mindset.
4. Finally, Chris, the fourth thing that I’d like for you to do is: just remember, it all starts with trust. Always starts with trust. People don’t have to be perfect when you trust each other, and that means that you rely on each other, you need each other. You can make mistakes and not feel that those are going to be taken advantage of. As I said earlier, you want to invest in relationships and you want people to know you as people-first, know each other as people-first vs work-first.
Thanks Chris for your question and thank you all for watching Ask Harold. On the next episode I’ll answer a question from a viewer whose manager hasn’t yet heard about flexible working arrangements. Maybe you’ll be able to relate to this topic too.
And remember: if you like this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have questions of your own, or want to see my other videos or articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com
Take good care and see you all soon.