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How To Deal With Unhealthy Team Dynamics

Collaboration
Conflict solving
Internal Communication
Building a Team
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

10 July, 2019

Roey Saban, CRO at Core group, opens up about how he handled unhealthy team dynamics and how being transparent about each team member’s KPIs elevated team performance.

Problem

Healthy team dynamics is of tremendous importance. You can sense from afar when something is wrong with a team, but it is not always easy to pinpoint what exactly. We had a team of around ten people which was plagued by a latent feeling that some people are taking on more load while others were not contributing enough. However, that discontent was not openly verbalized but instead, it was expressed in a tone of voice and body language. Only occasionally I was approached with an open complaint. In addition, team members didn't socialize outside the work context and failed to display any courtesy to each other. We tried many different approaches until we realized what worked and what didn't. Actions taken We were exploring different approaches and were glad to finally find something that worked really well. We would convene a workshop at which we would discuss each person's KPIs. Prior to that, each team member was asked to reflect on the team's role and its contribution to the business. To avoid peer pressure they were to write down their answers without interacting among themselves. Interestingly, while all team members have different roles and responsibilities they readily came up with a complementary mission statement. We would return to KPIs, dissecting each person's KPIs and going into details of how we measure it. People were generally aware of who is in charge of what, but lacked the awareness of details, particularly of what expectations people should meet. Every single detail, including every measurable and indicator, was now written down on a board -- understandable and transparent to everyone. Also, everyone was welcomed to comment on KPIs and was openly asked if s/he thinks that s/he should have more or less responsibility. KPIs are not set in stone and everyone can challenge them constructively. We would encourage people to abstract KPIs from any particular person, but to focus solely on the role and to analyze if the KPIs are adequate for that role. We have repeated the process for every person. Finally, after a lively discussion, we would reach a consensus on KPIs. This was important as we could always, if the discontent unearths, refer to that specific point of mutual agreement.

Lessons learned

  • We tried a great many things and some worked while others didn't. For example, we did a team building and it was not particularly effective.
  • On the other hand, convening a workshop discussing each person's KPIs turned out to be the most effective approach. It enhanced the team's responsibility to each other and boosted networking. We realized that for many employees this type of workshop was an eye-opener to understand the bigger picture and their own role within the broader framework.
  • While we understood the importance of these workshops for elevating team performance, we also have to emphasize that they are time-consuming and it is hard to organize them on a weekly basis or whenever we notice an uneasiness in the team. But a consensus that was reached by all team members is a worthwhile reference point that we can always relate to.

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