On one hand, when disruption is sought-after in a team’s composition and charter, innovation and forward progress results. These exquisitely collaborative teams, and their members, are far and few between. The game-changing outcomes they produce become hard-wired into each team member’s professional DNA. They anticipate all teams to function in the same manner as a “dream team.”
More often than not, disruption is an unintended consequence and workplace norm reflecting poor team planning.
Most of us have indelible memories – not exactly good ones – of teams dominated by negative, disruptive team members. There comes a point during that team’s life cycle, when team members have a “moment of truth.” How, they wonder, did they collectively permit themselves to become thoroughly influenced by disruptive team members?
That’s a good question to ask oneself. At the beginning. Before the team gets launched. Because the outcomes a team produces, subsequently, are contingent upon how that team is created, initially.
To get started, read my blog post on Why BASIC Cross Functional Collaboration is Frustrating!
When negative disruptive team members are unchecked, the team is unproductive.
The majority of time when teams call me in to work with them, they are stuck, stalled and stalemated. Each team member has a different version of how they got themselves into this quandary.
Which is why peeling this type of team onion is neither productive nor profitable.
Why? For starters, because between water cooler politics and pre- and post-meeting gossip, the team already is consumed with re-hashing their “issues.” Then, this type of kick-off consulting activity degenerates into a massive finger-point exercise and blame game, more often than not. In addition, the central “issue” involves the net impact of all the activities a team engages in, to work around disruptive team members.
Consequently, it is better to quantify the financial impact of the rest of the team’s obsession with these one or two team members. Ultimately, there are more ineffective team members than there are effective and disruptive team members.
Those non-billable hours really add up. And root causes have really big contexts. So, I start with the forensics of the rest of the team, rather than focusing yet more attention on disruptive team members.
3 frequently-occurring root causes open the door for disruptive team members.
While I am not going to delve into the entire change management arsenal in this blog post, here are three of the more prevalent root causes I observe.
First, when the majority of team members are un-engaged, unenthusiastic, uninspired or just plain disinterested, they are looking for a distraction. Disruptive team members are more than willing to provide entertainment and become the center of attention.
Furthermore, inaction or inertia by the rest of the team actually gives disruptive team members permission to initially and subsequently act in this manner. As a result, during the course of each meeting, the team spins their wheels. They become stuck and are unable to achieve forward progress and meet deadlines, objectives and milestones.
Also, team leaders who lack self-confidence often are overly-focused on being democratic, well-liked and potentially wishy-washy. As a result, they relinquish control of the team to others. Instead of targeting productive and profitable endpoints, team members wander around all over the place. There are more opinions than there are innovative ideas. In an attempt to bring order to team chaos, disruptive team members emerge and try to take control. While this is not the original intent of the eventual disruptive team members, it is a logical outcome of poor leadership.
Dealing with disruptive team members requires team leadership skills.
Due to the small, critical mass of teams, micro- and small businesses, disruptive team members exert a negative impact on employee morale, productivity and profitability. That is why the rest of the team must focus on becoming engaged and collaborative leaders.
Continuing to ignore, disregard, marginalize or just plain negatively disagree with disruptive team members simply does not work out well.
Is your business or team currently dealing with a disruptive team member or two? Is this situation novel for your organization or is it the norm?
Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
Image author: KZenon. Image source: Fotolia.