Client: A sales team.
The client organisation was a business going through a significant process of change. In one division a new leadership group had been formed, bringing together disparate sales leadership to increase collaboration and learning from best practice. The group had not gelled well for more than a year and performance was suffering.
On the face of it everyone in the team stood to gain if they worked together but the necessary collaboration wasn’t happening. The individuals had been extremely autonomous in the past and resented what they perceived as an attempt to impose central control. The individual appointed to lead them assumed he had more respect from them than was actually the case. The behaviours in the team were challenging and unsupportive and could occasionally descend into hostility. The leader of the team felt he was running out of options.
Why was the issue difficult to address?
The team members all disputed the right of the leader to instruct them. Whilst instructing them was not his intent, this damaged all the relationships. The team met regularly but had no face to face communication between meetings. A lot of assumptions were made about what they knew about each other as people, and also about whether they shared common purpose. There was such a degree of dispute between the individuals that the leader of the team was unable to see how he was contributing to the problems.
Type of project
Standalone team intervention – a one-off project involving the use of a Relational Health Audit followed by a facilitated workshop to discuss the results
Key lessons or insights
Deficient scores were observed across all of the drivers, confirming the initial feelings that a poor relationship existed within the group. Particularly low scores were found within the Conduct, Benefit, Skills and Amount sub-drivers. These low scores, except for the Parity driver, had a high consensus, indicating that there was a common recognition of the problem.
Before the intervention it was clear to an outside observer how dysfunctional the group was. However the members of the group were telling themselves a number of narratives that placed all responsibility on the leader or one or more other members of the group. After the intervention, it was possible for the group to discuss their problems dispassionately. In the end this allowed for a realignment of purpose and this in turn led to a reorganisation and disbanding of the group.