Team Building Tools and The Sacrificial Lamb Syndrome


Team maintenance and development.

Designed to improve team performance.

Any team is a complex of personalities, behavioural styles, imbued with open and hidden agendas. Successful team performance is dependent upon many facets of interaction. The team dynamic is a subtle, fragile and fluid multi-dimensional blend of interactions. Such a melange is fertile ground for misinformation, misunderstanding and mistrust. Constant change is the revitalising life-blood of any team, however some team members may not so readily embrace change as the more driving and adventurous individuals. Many individuals who find themselves part of a team are just that, ‘Individuals’ and not team players. Some are naturally suspicious of change. Some are naturally reactive rather than proactive. How then may any team succeed and meet its published objective, its reason for being?

In fact the majority of teams never actually meet their objective in totality. They either miss the target altogether, or are guilty of overkill. They either deliver too late or too early.

The end product of their deliberations is either lacking in quality or too sophisticated for its intended marketplace.

It is fairly obvious that for a team to run effectively it must own a basket of skills and abilities relevant to its objective.

What is so often overlooked is that the natural team dynamic must also be in accord with the demands of the objective.

This fact alone can condemn the team to certain failure.

Necessary Skills and Abilities+Team Relationship Harmony. = A team with every opportunity to meet its objective. This does not guarantee success but it makes achievement of the objective more likely. Most teams are constructed with the focus on the skills and abilities only. The objective is then usually dumped on the team and ‘output management’ rules OK. Output management can, and only ever does, deal with history.

The measurement and management of outputs is in many ways a complete misuse of management time and effort. It must be obvious that when an event has taken place you can never undo what has been done. You may of course have an inquest and try to determine what went wrong.

After the inquest has taken place and the findings published you then have an opportunity to do what should have been done in the first place.

Lesson: There are no certain short cuts to success.

Often the team as a whole are seen as responsible for their ultimate failure.

Sometimes individual team members are pilloried and the blame is squarely laid at their door.

Should the responsibility for failure rest solely with the team the team leader, the team as a whole or with another individual?

Is that fair?

We think not.

True the team may not have performed to the level of expectations of others. True the team may have simply fallen apart at the seams. True it could appear to others that certain players in the piece did not ‘do their bit’. The question to be answered is WHY? The answer in whole or in part is almost certain to be lack of forethought, lack of consequential planning, lack of true preparation, lack of patience, lack of attention to fine detail by those responsible for setting the original team objective. The single most important failure factor though will almost certainly be lack of sensitive team role casting by the individual or individuals responsible for determining the objective and identifying the team members in the first place. For a team to have a better than fair chance of success the people responsible for creating the team must attend to the finest of detail in their scoping of the overall project.

They must also complete a detailed ‘role casting’ document in advance of project roll-out.

Some companies offer team-bonding games and exercises such as a day paintballing or a weekend in the wilderness eating insects and berries.

Such organisations do have a role to play but all too often they are called in by those on high who have simply run out of ideas, excuses and time (they suddenly realise their days in office may be numbered).

It is often a last ditch effort by such an individual or individuals to identify which team member or members should be held responsible and therefore carry the can on their behalf, ‘The Sacrificial Lamb Syndrome’. In reality is this form of ‘treatment’ almost always too little, too late to be of any real corporate value? Any subsequent programmes of improvement, if any, offered by way of solution are often of doubtful long-term benefit and even short-term value. The short term quick-fix approach usually only ever results in the symptoms being treated and the cause never truly identified. Often such solutions are not only at great cost in direct fiscal terms but also in the less easily quantifiable areas of financial haemorrhage caused by lost time, internal relationship melt down and bruised egos. Is this then in reality a help or a hindrance?

Has the symptom been paid all of the available time and attention and the true cause left untreated?

In the majority of cases the answer is a resounding yes, so how then may we create a dependable defence against poor team performance missed objectives and subsequent team failure?

What is, and why have a detailed ‘role casting’ document?

Who should produce it?

Role Casting is multi-functional.

It is the process by which you determine who is to be involved in a project and exactly what their specific contribution will be.

Role Casting also determines the manner and style in which the selected individuals and therefore the team as a whole will approach the task in hand.

Role Casting Questionnaires.

There may be a number of separate and distinct questionnaires to be completed.

Focused Team Role Casting.

Film producers are accountable for budgets of millions of pounds therefore you may be certain that they pay due regard to the soft issues surrounding the critical process of Role Casting.

Getting it wrong would and has in the past for some spelt financial disaster. It is not enough to know that a particular Star could fulfil the role, has the looks, the experience, the technical skills and abilities required to play the lead role. It has to be proven beyond doubt that they will also be able to gel particularly with the director and the other Stars in the cast. How many times have we heard stories of the petulant and disruptive behaviour of a so called Star. This happens when the 3 M’s of misinformation, misunderstanding and mistrust have started to taint the many, many relationships within a team which comes together to shoot a new film. This then creates fertile ground for the first roots of discontent these roots can spread out at an alarming rate like the Mycenae of a fungus and contaminate the whole Film Project within just a few hours. When one considers that there could be many relationship clusters (a relationship cluster is a close team within the overall project such as the Filming Crew) with each cluster having maybe up to 30 individual relationship links. With so many interpersonal links it is not unreasonable to suppose that certain relationships may be fraught from time to time, ultimately causing upset and rifts within the team. This will often seriously and negatively affect the team dynamic resulting in team objective drift.

By developing the art of ‘proactive preventative’ rather than ‘reactive diagnostic’ team management, much of the debilitating aspects of team member interpersonal relationship incongruence may be avoided.

Paying the price up front of your own volition by investing in team interpersonal relationship behavioural style training will be a budget expense you will have to fight very, very hard for.

Generally because those who control the corporate purse are so far from the coal face they are in effect blind to the soft non fiscal issues which are so often in reality the root cause of Corporate malaise and possible ultimate failure.

Consider the number of teams likely to have to be created to fulfil a particular Corporate Objective; there could be dozens. Then consider the likely odds on there being many relationship banana skins just lying there waiting for the unsuspecting foot fall of a poorly trained or newbie team leader!

There are tools which exist that have been at our disposal for a number of years but which are unknown to most and undervalued and ignored by many.

How is your team performing?

Are you using such tools or are you gloriously unaware of their existence?


Source by Malcolm S Milligan

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