Is my team dysfunctional, or is it just me? Part 1

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Monday, July 18, 2016

So many people complain that their team is dysfunctional. They may be a member of the team or the leader of the team. I like to think that there is a continuum from dysfunctional to truly functional groups and teams. Michael Grinder and I have created the Leadership Map of Effectiveness as a way of diagnosing a team, and then determining the type of intervention to use with a team that matches both their level of development and the complexity of their work.

As you can see from the "Map" there are four levels of assessment:

  1. Functionality of the Group
  2. Management Intervention and Facilitation
  3. Complexity of the Issue
  4. Facilitation Process

The first question for a leader to explore in diagnosing their team is, "Is my team Formed or Unformed?" This distinction comes straight out of Michael's work. Many leaders and team members get very frustrated with their "team", when in fact, the team is really an unformed group. An unformed group meets one or more of the following conditions:

  1. The group meets infrequently - 3 times per year or less.
  2. The team doesn't have a clearly defined set of goals or objectives.
  3. The team doesn't have a clear methodology for how it conducts its business.
  4. The team doesn't have clearly defined work activities.

If this describes your team, then it is an unformed group. Unformed groups function more like networks, professional associations or, at best, loosely defined learning communities.

Don't despair - there is hope!

Leaders who push such groups get very frustrated and frustrate everyone else in the process. To move unformed groups to formed groups, the group needs to agree on undertaking a process that:

  1. Defines shared goals/purpose
  2. Identifies a way of doing business together to achieve the goals, and
  3. Develops a work plan that includes the steps that will help achieve the goals.

By having this conversation the team will most likely re-consider the frequency of when and how the meet.

This is the first in a series of blogs that will explore the 4 levels of assessment along with specific "how-to steps" to create high functioning teams. To read this whole body of work, check out my book, From Cat Herding to Leadership.




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