Six ways to fix your team when it’s broken

 by Sheri Browning, Partner, PeopleResults

If you’ve been part of a group in need of serious repair for a long time or you’re feeling like you’re just starting to spiral downward, here are six key things to think about to get back on track.

1. Identify the root cause of the problem. In the book 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, author Pat Lencioni outlines five of the most common issues that teams experience.

  • absence of trust
  • fear of conflict
  • lack of commitment
  • avoidance of accountability
  • inattention to results.

Many teams experience more than one of these issues, so getting to the source of what’s causing the issue is usually a huge step toward the solution.

2. Don’t focus just on the team. Most organizations have processes, standard operating procedures and systems that can be a huge part of the problem. Don’t ignore the infrastructure around the way people work. It can set the team up for success or be a huge obstacle.

3. Seek to understand. The most important step after you’ve identified the root cause of the problem is to understand the issues around it. I’ve found that many kinds of assessment tools – such as Shadowmatch, Extraordinary Groups, the Myers-Briggs test and DISC assessments – can give us insights about ourselves and the teams we work with every day. These insights can have a profound impact on both individuals and teams. The results can provide a set of tools to fix what’s broken.

4. Be honest and transparent about the issues. Don’t try to move forward as quickly as possible without giving people a ‘say.’ Don’t dwell on the negative, but sometimes hearing directly from frustrated team members will help you progress more quickly.

5. Create a tactical action plan. Don’t leave any discussion, workshop or alignment session without one. Each individual and team should have a list of things they will do differently and an understanding of how they will demonstrate their commitment to making the change.

6. Follow up and hold people accountable. Revisit how things are going a few months after your team alignment work is complete. Did the team change the things they said they were going to do? You should expect some adjustments to be necessary, but also that some of the issues and obstacles will be out of the way.

A longer version of this article first appeared at PeopleResults.