Overcoming Dysfunction to Build Team Effectiveness
31 Oct, 2020
Our client in the Technology space had one specific department where a legacy leadership culture had left the department dysfunctional and the environment toxic. Because of the particular technical skills this department required, it had many long-tenured employees who been exposed to this culture established by the leader who had just left the organization. There was a resulting skepticism, lack of trust and strong resistance to change. Much of the team’s energy was being diverted to attending inefficient meetings, discussing these meetings after they were over, low productivity at work and an all-round aversion to innovation or change. The HR department, along with a C-suite member, decided to take a step back and reflect as they searched for the right successor and undertake some form of intervention to shift the team’s mindset.
We did a phased intervention to approach the issue of Team Effectiveness. Our first intervention was with the senior leadership team who were direct reports to the erstwhile leader. We conducted individual interviews, a team effectiveness survey and an all-day workshop that served as the catalyst to help the team vent and splurge about what was broken, inefficient or wrong, before moving forward into designing a future state culture and operating principles.
We then held meetings with the same team to make the future state culture, roadmap and pillars of action more concrete. We followed this up with an all-day workshop with the entire department of 50+ employees who participated in different exercises, interventions and future-state scenario creation.
Before the workshop, we had collected data points on the department’s current state, which we transparently shared with the employees. Each group of participants was involved in different phases of development of clear action items and commitments to the future state. Finally, the Department Leader, selected as the successor, went through a six-month executive coaching intervention to position her better in her leadership role.
The team’s morale reached an all-time high in the months that followed. The operating principles the team had defined have now become a way of life for them. They undertook several concrete steps as part of the roadmap, including moving to a new office layout that served extremely well in improving the department’s communication and team spirit. The new leader’s style and direction helped the team a lot as well, and they were collectively able to move on from the past into the future with more energy and enthusiasm.