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How to Influence and Redirect a Dysfunctional or Stagnant Professional Team

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Your professional team has turned sour — it’s completely dysfunctional, full of personality clashes, massive miscommunication, and a lack of trust. Or maybe it’s completely stagnant, complete with sub-par ideas and missed deadlines.

What can you as a team leader do?

Dysfunction and stagnation on professional teams can leave managers feeling helpless. However, knowledge of each team member’s listening and communication preferences (a.k.a. their ‘Archetypes’) can help managers better communicate with clashing coworkers, breathe new life into cratered creativity, and refocus the team for up-leveled productivity.

Listen To Their Concerns… and For Their Archetypes —

Listen closely to each team member’s concerns 1-on-1. “Allow them to vent their frustrations and express their ideas,” says Catherine. “This will help you establish rapport, develop trust, and diagnose the issues. It’ll also allow you to determine each team member’s Archetype,” says Catherine. “Once you have that, you’ll know exactly how to reformulate your team for success.”

Avoid Groupthink by Balancing Your Team —

“One of the reasons teams stagnate is because they’re all thinking similarly,” says Catherine. “How do you fix this? By balancing out your team Archetypes!” Each Archetype processes information in one of four ways: by Connecting to the big picture; by craving data and Detail; by using hands-on practice to Construct solutions; or by experimenting, brainstorming, and Inventing possibilities. “Make sure your team has at least one Archetype with each of the four ‘Processing Power’ profiles,” says Catherine. “This ensures your team is balanced, won’t get caught in the mire of Groupthink, and tackles problems from every angle.”

Balance Your Communication —

Now that you’ve created a balanced team based on Archetypes tap into all of them by balancing your communication! “This will inspire right from the get-go,” says Catherine, “because they’ll feel like you’re ‘speaking their language!'” For example, in a team meeting:

  • Explain how the company wants to expand marketing to increase profits in Q3 and Q4, and ask what experience the team has with this area. (Connect)
  • Describe how the team has been given $100,000 and 90 days to complete the task, and ask what other data the team needs to move forward. (Detail)
  • Ask how they would begin to craft solutions. (Construct)
  • Explain how the team’s creativity and innovation will need to be switched to high gear for this process. The team should brainstorm different ways to get the company where it wants to go. (Invent)

Build Translation Bridges —

Don’t be stingy! Instead, have each teammate discover both their Archetype and the Archetypes of everyone on the team. This allows team members to build “translation bridges,” which means speaking to maximize their teammates’ learning and understanding how teammates communicate so that you maximize your own learning. “One of the causes of dysfunctional or stagnant teams is miscommunication,” says Catherine. “Teaching your team about each other’s Archetype and allowing them to build translation bridges will help eliminate miscommunication forever!”

This guest post was authored by Catherine Mattiske

Global business educator and author Catherine Mattiske is the founder of TPC — The Performance Company, a leading training and consulting organization that has worked with Fortune 100 companies worldwide. Established in 1994, TPC has offices in Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, London, Singapore, and Basel (Switzerland). The author of more than 30 books, her latest is “Unlock Inner Genius: Power Your Path to Extraordinary Success” (September 2021). Learn more at TheGeniusQuotient.com.

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