Rebecca and the members of Rebecca’s team were feeling stalled. Bogged down. “It’s a terrific team,” she thought. “We all trust and respect each other. It’s a psychologically safe space. And we agree on the overall goals and purpose of our work.” As she considered each member of the team, Rebecca was convinced that everyone wanted to do the right thing.
Yet, they were making little progress.
As the team worked to develop ideas and consider options, Rebecca felt comfortable ultimately making the final decisions — she was team leader after all — and strove to meet deadlines and move the project forward.
Identifying the Issue
Working with her executive coach, Rebecca recognized that the main issue seemed to be that people were increasingly revisiting decisions already made. There seemed to be a desire to rethink things. Team members were bringing up old arguments, and quietly hanging on to their points-of-view, waiting for the opportunity to speak about them again (and again). A project with 85 steps can’t succeed when people get to step 50 and want to re-examine and debate what was decided at step 12!
Checking-In with Lencioni’s Concept of Team Commitment
Her coach suggested she conduct a full review of her team’s performance, using Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ model. (For more, read Arden Coaching’s blog, “How Is Your Team Performing? A 5 Point Check-Up“). Rebecca soon saw that her team was not committing fully to team decisions and moving forward. The job of the team is to fully consider all alternatives, make a decision by choosing the best option, and move on to the next step.
“Commitment” is the full, no-holding-back acceptance by each team member of the decisions made by the team. In this sense, commitment means that team members agree to support team decisions — even if they may have had a different idea, or initially been opposed to the ultimate “winner.” (For more, read “Essentials of Team Performance: Commitment”).
A team can make progress only when everyone on the team says yes to the decision AND stands behind it. At their next team meeting, Rebecca focused on commitment — and succeeded in getting her team to commit to commitment going forward.
Rebecca’s executive coach also reminded her that the ability for any team member to commit depends on the degree of “healthy conflict” that occurs within the team — the capacity to fully, honestly, respectfully, and passionately debate the merits of an idea or recommendation, with no fear of ridicule or retribution. (For more, read “Essentials of Team Performance: Healthy Conflict”). It’s human nature: it is very difficult to support a decision if you feel that your idea has not been fairly heard or considered.
Rebecca admitted that in her effort to move the team forward, she had, at times, cut-off full discussion and airing of ideas in order to make a decision and get to the next step. She dedicated herself to making sure that healthy conflict will be encouraged and supported within her team — helping to achieve full team commitment.
To learn more about how executive coaching can help you develop your leadership skills and build high performing teams, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.