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Archive for September, 2014

Engaging in Healthy Conflict Around Issues or Ideas

In the first of the recent two blogs, How to Ensure Success During a Major Corporate Change, we addressed the importance of building cohesive leadership teams – those that master the five behaviors: building trust, mastering conflict (around issues or ideas), achieving commitment, embracing accountability and, focusing on results.

In the second blog, Piranha Behavior on a Team, we discussed in more depth that the first discipline we have to master to make our teams great is trust. To build trust, team members need to be vulnerable around one another so that they are unafraid to speak up with honesty. Only team members who trust one another are going to feel comfortable engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate around issues and decisions. Otherwise, they are likely to hold back their opinions.

While conflict is often considered taboo, especially at work, people may spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to avoid the kind of passionate debates that are essential to any great team. Yet, conflict is the second discipline we must embrace in order to be a highly-effective and successful team. Teams that engage in productive conflict know that the only purpose is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time.

Teams that avoid conflict – speaking their views, debating their perspectives and voicing unfiltered opinions – turn to unproductive and sometimes destructive measures. In these cases, team members are not listening to one another’s ideas and considering their own points of view; they are figuring out how to manipulate the conversation to get what they want. Or, they don’t even engage their colleagues face-to-face; instead, they vent about them in the hallway after the meeting is over.

Teams that fear conflict:

  • Create environments where back-channel politics and personal attacks thrive
  • Waste time and energy with posturing and politics
  • Fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members, and
  • Ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success

These behaviors are team distractions, and are powerful destroyers of team success.Even among the best teams, conflict is at least a bit uncomfortable. It is unrealistic for a team member to say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with your approach to the project,” and not expect the other person to feel some degree of personal rejection. If team members are not making one another uncomfortable at times, if they never push one another outside of the emotional comfort zones during discussions, it is extremely likely that they are not making the very best decisions for the company.

The best teams are made up of people who are comfortable passionately arguing for their ideas. No one holds back their opinions – and everyone embraces conflict as the discipline necessary in the pursuit of truth or the very BEST possible answer for the organization.

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How to Ensure Team Success During a Major Corporate Change

Posted by Deb Spicer Certified Cultures That Work Coach
and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Facilitator

No one can dispute the power that strong leadership teams deliver to an organization. Therefore, when a major change takes place in a company – such as the appointment of a new CEO, a strategic restructure of an organization, a major acquisition, or a turnaround – it is time to take action.

To get the company on board withcorporate change requires putting into practice a new approach that focuses the leadership team on the new vision, measurable improvements and results.The leadership team’s commitment and their success in driving achievable, measurable, and bottom-line results in light of the major change, is fast-tracked when together cohesiveness, collaboration, commitment, and accountability are put into action.

With as much energy as it takes to build a cohesive team, the process does not have to be complicated. Quite simply, a cohesive team needs to master five behaviors: building trust, mastering conflict (around issues or ideas), achieving commitment, embracing accountability and, focusing on results.

“Team members have to be focused on the collective good of the team. Too often, they focus their attention on their department, their budget, their career aspirations, their egos. When people come together and set aside their individual needs for the good of the whole, they get more done in less time and with less cost.” — Patrick Lencioni (Author of the national best-seller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team)

Teamwork does not just happen, particularly when the leadership team is inherited or cobbled together bringing different cultures, different operating processes, and different perspectives about customer service delivery.

There are many reasons why teams fail. There is one proven way to help them succeed. Taking this focused approach your company can dramatically accelerate the process and build the leadership team in relatively short order. In this series, The Five Behaviors model is designed exclusively for intact teams and work groups. To download The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team brochure click hereFor more information or to request a proposal to help you build productive, high-functioning teams click here.

Piranha Behavior On A Team

One of the most difficult and destructive team personalities to deal with in an organization is one that I refer to as the “Piranha.” Like the South American fish that eats other fish it perceives as a threat, this personality type sabotages team success by manipulating and coercing others for personal gain.No matter how strong your team leadership skills, how charismatic your personality or how fluidly you negotiate, a “piranha” behavior on a team sabotages every effort toward the success of the team as a whole.

Why? Because the fundamental and most important behavior in creating a successful, high-performance team is trust. Trust is about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed to one another regarding their failures, weaknesses, and fears. Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple and practical idea that people who are willing to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes time and energy, and more important, makes it difficult to achieve real team results.

While the advantages of being a high-functioning team are enormous, they can only be achieved if every member of the tam is willing to invest the time and emotional energy in the process. For example, team members that lack trust often exhibit the following behaviors…

  • Waste time and energy managing their own behaviors for effect (a “piranha” behavior)
  • Find reasons to avoid attending team meetings
  • Contribute very little, even when specifically addressed
  • Dismissive and caustic in responding to other members’ ideas and inputs
  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitude of others without attempting to clarify them
  • Fail to recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback
  • Don’t offer help to people outside of their areas of responsibility

The first behavior we have to master to make our teams great is trust. To build trust, team members need to be vulnerable around one another so that they are unafraid to honestly say things like, “I don’t know the answer,” “I need help,” “I made a mistake,” “I’m not sure.” When one member is not vulnerable, it spreads like a disease and the team can be left in shreds. Unless each team member can readily speak these words when the situation calls for it, they will waste time and energy thinking about what they should say and wondering about the true intentions of their peers.

In order for a team to establish real trust, team members, including the leader, must be willing to be vulnerable around one another. Everyone must be committed to getting there. Every team member must be willing to take risks without a guarantee of success. They have to be vulnerable without knowing whether that vulnerability will be respected and reciprocated.

I have seen first-hand that once the piranha personality or team member unwilling to commit to the team is changed out, the team transforms immediately. In fact, while the rest of the team remains the same, it looks and behaves like an entirely different team. And, as these team members are now genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build the foundation to their long-term success: vulnerability-based trust.