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Team Dynamics

Over the years we have seen and trained a lot of different teams, with different “problems”, with different types of leaders and in different countries and with cultural backgrounds. One thing we learned, teams are living entities!

Teams are like an octopus. They have lots of arms, they are on the move all the time, and they have a sort of central “brain” that creates the identity of the team, values and patterns of behavior.  If your dream, as a manager, is that your team is “fully formed”, we have news for you: stop dreaming, that will never happen!

In our experience we have found that teams face similar challenges, and we created a simple list of practical and simple solutions for managers who want to create better and more successful teams.

1. "My team has a problem"

Teams don’t have problems; managers have problems with their teams. Teams do what they can to satisfy their own needs and sometimes the needs of the teams are not the same needs of the manager.

What to do?

Accepting the operational principal “The problem is never the real problem but it is the emotional state in which you approach the context” gives you the perfect mind-set to coach your team up to the next level.

“What happened exactly?”; “How you feel about it?”; ‘”What is your intention  for doing/saying that?”. These are example questions that can take your team from the victim role to the action role.

2. "My team is not solution-orientated" 

The capacity to create solutions, rather than more obstacles, is directly connected with to other competences: creativity and autonomy. The question is: have you created sufficient space for your team to be creative and to make mistakes?

What to do?

A long time a go we met a manager who was complaining that he didn’t have time to do his own job, because he went to a leadership training and they told him that “a good manager always has his door open”.  So he took that message into consideration and always kept his office door open and was always available to listen to all the “problems”. So now he was facing the situation of not only not having time for his own tasks, but also that the teams were always waiting for his opinion, suggestion or even solution. 

The task that we gave him was to create a sign and put on his closed office door. The sign said “Once you have at least 3 different solutions for the situation, please come in”. The team had a surprise but after one week they were really doing it. Their performance—and his—improved significantly.

3. "My team doesn't relate to the goals of the company"

We know that goals are a myth, but we need them to satisfy the rational part of our system. The setting of goals is a learning process, and presenting them in such a way that everyone in the team feels engaged is an art (that you can learn!).

What to do?

Goals are in the future, and probably you already learned that not everyone goes after the carrot. So when you think about setting goals, think not only about the gain, but also about the pain of not achieving the goal. Some of your team members will go for the gain and some of them will move running away from the pain.

Also when you are presenting the goals (assuming that you believe in each of them and that you are engaged with all of them) realise that each member of your team needs a different input to move with you. We recommend our book “Find motivation inside yourself” that you can download via www.in2motivation.com. This book explores with more details four different “types” and how they go from A to B for different reasons, and in different ways. 

To be continued.

Peter Koijen and Ligia Ramos