Are all teams alike? Given similar challenges and interventions, will similar teams achieve the same outcomes?
Last summer, I received calls from two similar businesses requesting a Team Clock assessment and recommendations. Once the assessments were complete revealing similar challenges (leadership change, negative workplace culture, failure to innovate), both companies signed on for a typical Team Clock Institute engagement designed to establish a healthy team infrastructure, empower interaction dynamics that reflected respect and accountability, increase team effectiveness/productivity, and facilitate nimble adaptation to change. Over the past six months, both teams have delivered their best efforts with dramatically different outcomes. One team quickly acknowledged the gravity of their challenges and committed to reinvest in an approach that would leverage the advantages of their differences. The other team became mired in bemoaning the changes and spent their energy pointing fingers and casting blame. While key adaptations were underway on both teams, the second team had been slowed by the weight of their unresolved interpersonal issues. Simultaneously, the first team identified vehicles for successful resolution of past and present conflict so they would be free to experiment with new goals, accountability, trust and, ultimately, a refreshed round of innovation.
Even the best intentions are trumped by powerful personalities and hidden agendas. The minority’s secondary gain (power/influence reward for unhealthy behavior) is often strong enough to derail a majority’s healthy agenda. When this occurs, leaders must be clear in their expectations for the team’s culture and hold employees consistently accountable for words and conduct that upholds the organization’s philosophy, mission, values and vision. If, heaven forbid, the toxicity resides in the leadership ranks, employees must find a way to rise above any negative momentum and create a subculture of excellence anyway. Eventually, either the climate shifts or people move on.