I’ve worked with dysfunctional teams, family businesses, and business partners that were literally at each other’s throats.
Three Causes of Dysfunction Teams
From my experience, I’ve seen are three dysfunctions.
- People don’t feel heard.
- People don’t feel respected.
- People don’t feel safe.
5 Dysfunctional Team Behaviors
This leads to 5 dysfunctional team behaviors:
- No Trust
- Fear of Conflict
- ‘Lack of Commitment
- No Accountability
- Inattention to Results
I’ve watched business teams shout, insult, talk over, make fun of each other, use sarcasm, bully the weakest members, or just retreat to silence.
Just like they did when they were kids.
And, I am never surprised.
Think about it.
The Role of Dysfunctional Families
Psychologist Virginia Satir once said that 96% of families are emotionally dysfunctional.
For example, most families believe that children should be seen and not heard. It’s okay for mom or dad to be angry, but it’s not okay for children to be angry. In fact, angry children are sent away from a dinner table. It is not okay to express feelings, needs, or wants. They are punished for their feelings.
Children are expected to be obedient and respectful of their parents even though parents are not required or expected to be respectful to their children.
When you grow up in a culture or household where emotions are evil, you see emotions causing fights.
Do you embrace, or do you run from emotions?
When you grow up in the hypocrisy of respect, you are expected to obey while you are not being heard, listened to, or respected…
Do you learn how to respect yourself enough to respect others?
When you are shamed for having feelings, do you develop healthy emotional skills?
You do the opposite to avoid the hurt and pain.
Dysfunctional Families Create Dysfunctional Adults
You see, when you tell a child’s brain the story long enough, it doesn’t become a story anymore. It becomes a belief.
With time, children form beliefs that emotions are bad, painful, and hurtful.
They shut down, numb out, and become emotionally unavailable. It’s the only way they can protect themselves.
They disrespect themselves, feeling deep shame and worthlessness… covered up, of course, by becoming a perfectionist, a pleaser, an over-achiever, an addict, or deeply self-absorbed.
This is how the imposter syndrome is created.
And here’s what’s even worse: they are completely unconscious of their inner shame
As a consequence, dysfunctional families produce dysfunctional adults.
And those dysfunctional adults bring all of their dysfunction to work. This is why there are dysfunctional teams.
However, I have learned that there is an antidote.
The Antidote to Dysfunctional Teams
The antidote is you, the leader.
When you know the real secret to creating safety, deep listening, and respecting your team, the dysfunctional team goes away. The secret leaders of high-performing teams learn is how to listen to people into existence.
Superb leaders listen to emotions rather than words. When they do this, several powerful changes occur in dysfunctional teams. Trust is established. People feel safe enough to have robust discussions and differences of opinion that they know will lead to optimum decisions.
People relish accountability and take on personal responsibility. They hold each other accountable for team performance. People focus on excellence and achievement.
I have deep experience helping leaders turn dysfunctional teams into high-performing teams. When they have mastered their emotional competency, they are calm and centered. They model precisely the behavior they want from their team. They know exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it to get what they need from their teams. And, their teams are deeply grateful for their leader’s respect and validation.
Not every leader is ready for this. I’ve turned down assignments when the dysfunction started with leadership that did not want to grow.
If you got this far, you are not one of those.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Doug Noll´s page.