Photo Keith Double

Meeting every week at the same table has never built a team or a collective dynamic. Ritual is only one of the components that flow from other fundamentals. What are they?

Some teams question their ways of doing things in order to get started or to welcome new members. Many do that work when they feel a “pebble in the shoe”: finding and naming the dysfunctions can be the first step to get back on track.

Decisions are made elsewhere

A common case: the team meets regularly, sometimes at length, but decisions are made elsewhere. Or they are made together to be better bypassed or defeated later. It is likely then that the decisions made together are not the ones needed by the team and the organization.

One way to resolve this is to identify the decisions – the real ones and the others – and to bring (back) to the center the reason why the team exists!

Working on making the right decisions in the right place connects to the reason for the existence of the team, and sometimes even the organization. Then the team is able to consolidate its progress through the constant practice of sharing, questioning and listening. And determine the rituals that enable it to deliver on its commitments, based on the organization’s culture.

The role of the collective is not clear any more

Before you even get to your weekly or bi-monthly meeting, you are already dragging your feet. Even during the meeting  maybe, you consider that you will stop wasting your time if you manage to make progress on that email that absolutely must go out today, or if you finish reading a contract that you just received.

These behaviors may reveal a lack of alignment with what your team needs to achieve. With each team member taking on his or her role at different times in the life of the organization, onths or even years can pass without questionning the role of the team in and for the organization.

The first question to ask is: what is our collective responsibility, what is expected of us? The question can then be taken further to identify the roles and responsibilities of each member, in conjunction with those of other team members.

Tensions create limitations

Another troubling situation-especially for the teams around you-is that team members are clear on what they want to accomplish individually and collectively, yet tensions between them slow down or complicate your task. If it is the case, it can be a good idea to start again from the reason for being (especially if you are aligned with it), and to question your dysfunctions.

Discovering or re-discovering each person, opening up to their strengths and contributions will be a good starting point. Clarifying dysfunctional moments or situations requires distance and confidence — which can only be acquired by practicing! Creating the conditions for this step back and for this trust is a collective and voluntary decision. It requires honesty and will power. Communication and development tools can help to practice a learning experience!

Exhaustion is around the corner

Perhaps less of a problem at first glance, but one to watch for in terms of dynamics and long-term effectiveness: team members meet regularly, and make decisions together, but lack informal interactions or moments of breathing.

From my first seminars with management teams, I have seen the power of simply being away from the office, away from the daily interactions with the teams. It can be difficult to take time to reflect and approach complex situations from a new perspective while remaining in a familiar place that is associated with everyday decisions! Moments of breathing as a team can be all the more impactful when the teams works remotely at least 1 day (sometimes 3) in the week!

Different dysfunctions can become points of entry to address the problems of a team and realize the potential of its functioning. They will lead to the reason for being, to the rules of individual and collective work, to the values, or to the roles and responsibilities. All these are dimensions of teamwork that must be experienced in order to deliver their full impact over time. Do you recognize yourself in one or more of the dysfunctions above?

Co-Dynamics offers many methods and tools to energize the functioning of management teams: you understand by now that their deployment is based on experimenting with them to better master them!