Case 3: Team Dynamics

Posted by jlubans on September 02, 2010


What do you decide to do about these not uncommon team situations? What might be driving the team member’s behavior? Do you call the behavior or ignore it? Tell me why.

1. Hal waxes eloquent with little prompting. Actually, sometimes without any prompting. He’s infatuated with the sound of his voice. When a simple yes or no would suffice, Hal goes on for two or three minutes or more. You’re the team leader and you’ve been keeping track of Hal’s “airtime” in team meetings. He’s at about 50%, and gaining. While there’s usually some value in his comments, his verbosity is shutting down other viewpoints, especially from quieter team members whom he leaves, literally, speechless.

2. Sally and Ralph sit side by side in your team’s weekly meeting. They often whisper during team discussions. You have no idea if what they are murmuring about is related to the topic under discussion. Every now and then, when the general team discussion gets a bit unfocused, they’ll get into an out loud side-conversation totally irrelevant to the topic being discussed. You get a sense their behavior is annoying to the other team members, but so far no one has confronted them, including, you, the team leader. Do you?

3. Lucy is a know it all. She ignores other team members’ viewpoints, giving the impression that her view is better informed than anyone else’s. Lucy can quote chapter and verse on most policies and procedures. However, her arguments, invariably, are to maintain the status quo rather than to improve and make changes. In the process she silences other team members who do not have the familiarity she has with the topic and are fearful of being shown up. Yet, you know these silenced team members have very good ideas. Confront?

4. Jack really, really, would like to be back in his cubicle cataloging books rather than in the weekly team meeting. His disdain for team work is on view as he squirms in his seat, checks his watch, and rolls his eyes when discussion goes on and on. He tries to hurry the process along so he can get back to his “real work”, as he calls it. He is a highly productive worker, is very courteous outside of team meetings, and has a fine sense of humor. He simply detests team projects. What’s up?

5. In team discussions, Jamie is supportive of other views, builds on ideas, listens keenly, asks constructive questions and provides excellent feedback. Her failing? Whenever she volunteers to do extra work for the team, which she does often, she rarely completes it on time, if ever. When confronted about her procrastination, Jamie rattles off lots of reasons why her work is delayed. Keep on keepin’ on?

6. Sofia’s a hard working team member in this public services unit. But she has a knack for turning team discussion into a negative energy drain. A cheerleader for her own team, she has nothing good to say about the other teams in the organization: to her they are all incompetent. Sofia has derisive names for the members of other teams, including “deadwood”, “shiftless,” “asleep at the switch”, etc. Since you must collaborate with these groups, Sofia’s disdain is a major stumbling block. Well, WHAT are you going to do about Sofia?

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