Six staff make up this team; Daniel, Traci, Sherri, Rebecca, Anthony, and Chloe. This team was responsible for reviewing approximately 4,000 case files over five months. Each case file has multiple documents to be considered for final approval on the file. In a meeting, the leadership of the team shares staff should begin the review and approval process. However, there is no additional information given on how to proceed. Each team member is responsible for their workflow as each has other projects to complete outside of this process. Management allows each team member the autonomy to work as they choose; however, the team as a whole is responsible for the completion of the task.
As with any team, there are several different working styles, and each member uniquely approaches their work. Files are assigned to staff members via round-robin within the office CRM. This process ensures staff members received an equal amount of work. Files enter the system throughout the five months, and the team leadership receives monthly productivity reports. As documents begin to flow into the CRM, several team members like Traci and Daniel set daily personal goals for the number of document files they review each day. Others like Sherri and Rebecca set weekly goals as their other responsibilities prevent them from working on this project daily. However, Anthony and Chloe do not set any goals for themselves.
Documents begin to flow into the system, and progress is made by several of the team members. After two months of processing files, the manager calls a meeting to share that the team is behind in processing about 300 files. Leadership then asks the team to review what is in their queue, and when done, help others on the team to remain on track to meeting the goal. Daniel and Traci’s queues are up to date. Sherri and Rebecca’s queues have less than 30 files. However, Anthony and Chloe have over 75 in each. After Daniel and Traci make this discovery, they decide to share with Sherri. In the discussion, the team members share their discontent with both Anthony and Chloe for not doing their best to help the team and instead allowing the others to shoulder their responsibility. However, what the other team members do not realize is that Anthony and Chloe are being pulled in different directions with their other job duties. For them, their other work takes precedence.
Lencioni (2002) discusses the role of ambiguity in the lack of commitment dysfunction. In the above scenario, the team left the original meeting without having solidified the parameters needed to complete the task. Leadership shared that team members should begin working but gave little direction for the process. Each team member left the meeting with their idea of what completing the task meant. For some, that was chip away at the task little by little each day or week; however, for others, that meant waiting until necessary. With no team discussion, members were not able to share their concerns about balancing their other obligations. When team members are not able to share their opinions and feel like they’ve been heard, they will not get on board with the mission of the team (Lencioni, 2002).
To address the situation, the team should have come together to have an open discussion on what steps need to be taken to complete the task. In this discussion, there does not need to be consensus or certainty; however, everyone should be heard, and all thoughts considered (Lencioni, 2002). If there had been any further conversation, Anthony and Chloe could have expressed concerns regarding their workload, allowing the group to formulate an alternative plan. The team leader could have then created weekly productivity goals with corresponding deadlines and a contingency plan for the weeks that Anthony and Chloe may not have been able to meet those goals. Having these discussions at the start of the project would remove any ambiguity and encourage buy-in from the entire team, helping them achieve their goals.
Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team. Jossey-Bass.