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Help a Stagnant Team

A client emailed me to ask for book suggestions for a leader who felt her team was stagnant. I suggested Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which always will get a leader thinking. Then the client emailed me again to tell me how well his own team is doing ~ and the reason the team is doing so well is that this leader and his team are committed to being in conversation about what matters.

To help a team that is stagnating, team coaches and leaders can look to some fundamental areas related to teaming, which include the following:

* Are the four team fundamentals transparent and understood by the leader and the team members? The four fundamentals that Alexander Caillet and I teach in our workshops are (1) Clear Purpose (understood and bought into by all); (2) Performance Goals (team goals and individual goals clear and defined); (3) Collaboration (includes everything from clear roles and responsibilities, to clear methods of decision making, to communication, to commitment to everyone’s growth and development; and lastly, (4) Mutual Accountability, which includes trust, respect, commitment, and ownership.

* Is the leader feeling fresh and committed to the team goals? * Is the team as a collective able to talk about what matters to them on the business side as well as the personal commitment side? * How much transparency does the team exhibit, and are they able to have tough conversations, robust debate, conflict, and get to resolution?

A story comes to mind of a client who inherited a team that felt truly stagnant to her. She had worked with everyone on the team before and felt her relationships with team members were positive. Yet, they had felt jostled around by change and changes in leadership. They felt unclear about where they stood as a team and as individuals.

After we talked through what she was looking for, we embarked on two activities that made a palpable difference to the team’s well-being. First, she worked with HR to undergo a ‘new leader assimilation’ process, whereby HR spoke with her team as a collective and worked through their past moments of pride and moments of learning. HR also got their feedback on what they appreciate in a leader. The team and leader then gathered, with the HR facilitator, to give the new leader (my client), the feedback from the team about what inspires the team. This was a great step.

About two weeks later, the leader, without warning, changed the weekly ‘status’ meeting to a conversation that started with the question, “What gets you to come here on every Monday morning?” “What do you love about your work?” This conversation created a buzzzzzzz, with energy that invited head AND heart from each team member. From then on, at least every six weeks, the team had a conversation like this one, and in a short amount of time, the feelings of stagnation were gone, replaced by honesty, transparency, commitment, and energy on the team.

OK! Coaches and leaders …what have you done to help teams un-stagnate?

This entry was posted in Team Coaching and Development on July 22, 2014.

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