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Are Your Stronger Team Members Overwhelming Weaker Ones?

Dominating team members

We’ve all been in teams, where some people dominate other members of the team. Are those in the latter group intimidated? Maybe. But it’s a waste of valuable resources when members of a team don’t speak their mind and contribute. The whole team suffers. However, a team that is ‘intentional’ can get around that.

Intentionality requires clarity of purpose about the team, and this isn’t about warfare; it’s about teamwork. To start with, you must think before, during and after the problems set in.

Formal team guidelines

Beforehand, establish formal guidelines for behaviour for the team. This might entail informing all members not to bring general criticisms to meetings, but examples and concrete suggestions for improvement. The team leader must set up the right conditions, and this can be tricky. For example, people who tend to overwhelm others should be coached on how to conduct themselves. This might also involve skills training for the team on how to communicate effectively.

Feeling attacked

During team interactions, where team members overwhelm others with criticism, the team leader should help those on the receiving end by giving them strategies for dealing with bullying behaviour. This can mean helping them reframe their response in an assertive style of communication. For example, use the word ‘I’, be specific, state the impact of their behaviour, and be clear about what needs to change. In the end, it might come out like this in a one-on-one situation:

“I feel attacked and belittled when you criticize me in front of everyone. It would help me if you and I sat down together before a team meeting so you can give me examples of what is troubling you and we can find a solution that works for both of us.”

Taking some time out

Another effective approach is to take a time-out:

“Thank you for the feedback. I would like to think about what you said. Let’s talk about this on Friday afternoon and I would like to invite Janet to the conversation as she was working on that piece of work as well.”

Everyone counts

After meetings, the team leader can follow up and identify potential trouble spots for the team. The team leader can conduct an assessment for the team (or with the affected individuals) to see if any outstanding issues or hurt feelings remain. The key is to not let things fester and, instead, get the issues out until everything is said. Everyone needs to remember that they must work together as a team.

Learn more. An Intentional Team™ produces amazing results with a clear common purpose. It tracks progress, and has both a supportive culture and a leader who knows what it takes to make the team great. The Building an Intentional Team™ Service requires a self-assessment of the team and a two-day workshop, ideally followed by a year of customized programming that can include 90-day milestone meetings and Intentional Leader coaching. The result is a team that runs smoothly and is self-adjusting so it can focus on producing results.


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