Why don't some management teams work? Often there are personal backgrounds that influence relationships, but very often these negative premises do not exist, yet the team is not effective. Not only that, meetings happen to repeat themselves wearily and turn out to be boring and lacking in meaningful conclusions. The problem is not trivial, given that the best brains of the company participate in the meetings of the management team, or at least the highest paid.
An ineffective management team gives a bad signal to the whole company, spreading the belief among the intermediate and operational levels that top management is meeting (in spite of itself) to waste time. To understand the "negative dynamics" that underlie the failure of some management teams, we will use a model known as the "Lencioni Model". In 2005 Patrick Lencioni published his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which has developed a model of (in) effectiveness based on what causes dysfunctions, conflicts and political maneuvers in a working group. Patrick had thought of his model for any type of team, I, frankly, find it perfectly suited for management teams or executives teams, less so for more operational and less strategic teams.
That said, we see these dysfunctions and the "therapeutic approach" we propose.
5 reasons why teams fail and how you can overcome it
1. Lack of trust
We are not talking about the obvious and usual trust that is required between humans. Here we think of a deeper trust, so deep as to allow members of the management team to be able to show their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to colleagues, certain that they will not be used or exploited in other contexts. There must be a climate of mutual offer of help and assistance. The management team must correspond to a fundamental moment of free and serene exchange, to make work interactions comfortable and constructive. How is it possible to overcome the natural mutual distrust? The team builder must work by activating the necessary mechanisms that open up a progressive confidentiality between team members. There are proven methods that increase the interrelation between subjects.
2. Fear of conflict
Conflict, if it does not lead to reckless, and at worst violent, personal matters, is an effective symptom of an excellent level of trust and mutual esteem. Be wary of management teams attended by mummified subjects, who absentmindedly assent to everything their colleagues say. Be sure that in those contexts there is no trust (see previous point) and no mutual esteem. Conflict (I repeat, not brawl) is an act of generosity towards colleagues and towards the ideas they express. Conflict is the only dialectical tool that allows a comparison between different positions that attempt a synthesis of overcoming the individual positions. The comparison, especially in top meetings on which the future of the company may depend, helps to grow and sharpens the rational study of one's own opinions or ideas to support or abandon them in favor of those of a colleague.
The team builder, to promote a climate of participation even in conflict, must handle "explosive material" and it is good that he is competent and prepared. The first step consists in explaining very well what is meant by conflict in a company context and, above all, in a management team. Secondly, we move on to analyze the difference between conflict and quarrel. Two very close relatives, but with totally different objectives and methods.
Lastly, the issue of conflict management and its recomposition is addressed, which must absolutely take place before leaving the meeting room! to promote a climate of participation, including conflict, he must handle "explosive material" and it is good that he is competent and prepared. The first step consists in explaining very well what is meant by conflict in a company context and, above all, in a management team. Secondly, we move on to analyze the difference between conflict and quarrel. Two very close relatives, but with totally different objectives and methods. Lastly, the issue of conflict management and its recomposition is addressed, which must absolutely take place before leaving the meeting room! to promote a climate of participation, including conflict, he must handle "explosive material" and it is good that he is competent and prepared.
3. Lack of Commitment
This means feeling a part in the full implementation of the decisions, deadlines and plans established by the management team. Normally, if you have worked well on the two previous points, the commitment follows (almost) automatically. In any case, the team builder must make sure that each member feels directly committed to all the resolutions of the management team and also feels the successes and failures of colleagues "his".
4. Fear of responsibility
This fear is the result of the unresolved presence of the previous three points. In fact, it is symptomatic of a lack of trust in colleagues, a fear of conflict and a lack of commitment. The fear of responsibility represents a real escape from the team, an escape that takes the form of stigmatizing whoever did what and not feeling the work of others. The fear of responsibility leads the subject to always conform to the majority and never expose himself with his own ideas or initiatives. It is a terrible evil for the team, because those who do not overcome this fear are inclined not to embrace the initiatives of the management team and to specify it even outside the meeting room. The team builder must work on a fundamental point: who is part of a management team must be at the height and whoever fears the responsibility of the decisions taken by the team, is necessarily called out. I do not recommend mediating on this point. The fear of responsibility is symptomatic of an insecure personality inadequate for roles that are defined, precisely, of responsibility. The team builder must first work on the three previous points and then verify that all members feel part of the decisions made by the team.
5. Inattention to results
When we talk about results, we refer to the overall results of the management team, the only ones that matter. If some of the members focus too much or exclusively on their own goals and ignore those of the others, it could contradict the overall strategy that the management team has set itself. Of all the work that a management team has done, the main moment is the analysis of the results and their evaluation in light of the overall work of the individual members. When we talk about results we are talking about measurable and concrete quantities. It is also possible to refer to qualitative results, but it is necessary to have a reference order of magnitude to evaluate the success of the work performed. Inattention to results thwarts all interpersonal work and undermines the credibility of the management team.
Joining a management team represents a "solemn" moment in the life of an executive, which requires a profound rethinking of himself / herself, as a manager and as a person.
About the author
Giuseppe Ando is a C-Level & Executive Coach - Associate Partner at the acclaimed Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching. With a career that presides at the crux of the Venn diagram of Passion, Skills, and Experience, Giuseppe’s reputation as top executive coach has spanned decades. Among his many accolades, he is also recognized for his unique ability to understand and inspire those he coaches to excel professionally and personally while also delivering their organization’s desired results.