Team Dysfunction: Five Steps to Get Your Team on Track
Nancy Haller, Ph.D., Leadership Coach McKenzie Management
The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were swept out of the NBA playoffs this year. It was a humiliating 4-0 loss. The issue wasn’t so much that the Dallas Mavericks were a better team. If you watched any of the series you saw flagrant fouls that were deplorable and disgraceful. Even Phil Jackson, the most winning coach with a collection of 11 championship rings, was fined by the league for his comments about officiating. As a long-time Laker fan, I was sad to see a talented group of people fall apart at the seams.
You may not be Dr. Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Lakers, but getting the ‘dys’ out of your team’s function is essential for your success. Here are five steps that help energize your staff and get them back to winning.
- As the dental leader, take 100% responsibility for your team falling apart and start changing your leadership behaviors today. If you are sitting and waiting for things to improve then you are not a leader, you are a follower. Stop griping about how Mary isn’t carrying her weight or that she has an ongoing tiff with Jane. Wishing and hoping isn’t going to change things. It’s time to get some backbone, look in the mirror and ask yourself: “What am I doing or not doing that is causing this team to fall apart?” You’re the one in charge and you need to take command, albeit diplomatically.
- Provide structure and hold people accountable. Get in there and establish clear expectations and standards for performance. Winning teams know what to do and how to do it, and they are held accountable to that process. After all, teamwork is about individuals setting aside their needs for the good of the whole. Certainly you want to empower your staff, but this doesn’t mean letting them do their own thing. It’s necessary to have a dependable system and processes in place. These create commitment.
- Meet individually with each employee and develop a plan for the next six months. Each person on your team has responsibilities. Just like a winning coach, let your employees know when they miss a “play.” Fairly and respectfully, identify the gaps between expected and actual performance. Listen openly to what they tell you. Involve them in finding solutions. Help them to improve in areas that need attention. By teaching and training your employees, you enable them to align with your expectations. When each person understands and executes his/her role, it leads to a winning team. Be sure to monitor performance.
- Develop team synergy. Teams that “win” work hard, but they’ll tell you they are having the time of their lives. They get the job done, and at the end of the day they celebrate. Sit down with your team and brainstorm on how to get stronger by using creativity and how to make it fun. Most leaders never sit down and talk about how they are going to get better and have fun doing it. When the fun stops, teams fall apart. They lose their spirit. So, get in there - work hard, and play hard!
- Get rid of the dead beats. It’s never easy to let someone go, but it is the right thing to do if that's the employee’s "choice." Yes, it is his or her choice. Once you’ve clarified job responsibilities and performance expectations, document it. If it’s necessary to have a second conversation about poor performance, have the employee sign a written warning. Then empower the employee to create his/her own destiny. Their actions will signal their "choice." Show support. Reward them for progress, or release them from a situation that neither party is happy with.
If your team is marred by dysfunction, contact Dr. Nancy Haller. She’ll help you to turn them into a team that excels together.
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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