Team Engaging in Non-Productive Behavior
LTPS Monthly Minute
You head up an R & D team for a software development firm. Each Monday morning, you gather your seven direct reports together to go over the status of projects in the pipeline.
Your team members represent a mix of behaviors. It seems like the group is constantly arguing over solutions — not necessarily productive arguments, but stalemates that can result in gridlock.
Ironically, the second problem is a lack of participation by some members. They tend to let the boisterous members prevail, even though the reticent ones are equally capable people.
This Can’t Go On
These problems cannot be allowed to continue, since R & D is the source of most of the company’s direction. Business will suffer, and your position could be on the line if your group can’t function more productively.
The Q4 Answer
This is the best course of action for a Q4 team leader. You may feel it is too controlling to impose this degree of authority. However, under these circumstances, the leader needs to provide more direction — that is, to facilitate the group to accomplish its tasks. To allow stubborn bickering to prevail is shirking responsibility for keeping the group productive. It’s Q2 passive leadership. The same is true for not encouraging full participation. And giving more structure does not cross over into Q1 dominance or taking over.
Setting up criteria and standards puts everyone on the same page and drives the group with more purpose toward making decisions without straitjacketing the team’s thinking. Then, calling on each member to respond — not an unreasonable request for this group — will promote engagement without any recriminations or finger pointing.
It is certainly within the realm of Q4 engagement to rally the troops to perform better as a group. However, Choice A is far superior. It’s better to lead by engagement, rather than by wagging the finger of blame. Instead of focusing on the consequences of failure, Choice A leads from the rear and improves the process, which in turn, should improve behavior.
Again, a responsible leader could talk about changing individuals’ behavior, but that works better if you have one person whose performance in the group needs improvement. The logistics of having four or five separate conversations could be a problem. Also, it’s not wise to have too many outside conversations as a team leader. If your message is different from member to member, or if members want to talk about other members to you, you’ll get into counter-productive gossip and intrigue.