“If two people in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary” William Wrigley Jr.
The same holds true for a team because if you have a team that is always in agreement we call it group-think. Others call it a cult.
Put the glass of Kool-Aid down and back away slowly!
Tension in a team can be a great tool to ensure the best work is being done. The wrong kind tension can be disastrous. Here is how to tell the difference:
Good tension – In team where there is a large amount of trust people feel comfortable pushing back on each other to ensure the best ideas win. When this happens in sales teams new markets are developed. And innovative business models are conceived and successfully implemented.
Bad tension – Selfishness can kill an organization because people make decisions with their own interests at heart. This leads to rivalries and politics not for the betterment of the idea but for the advancement of the individual. When this happens in sales teams ill-fated initiatives are launched. Even when the data is clear that this is a bad idea people still hold on to it because their ego gets in the way of better judgement.
The best way to build a high velocity team that’s infused with good tension is to pay attention to the beliefs that drive the team dynamics. Underneath every team dynamic is a belief that controls it. To uncover why a team is behaving in a certain way ask yourself what team belief would cause this behavior?
For example, a high degree of office politics could be the result of low trust within a team. With that insight in mind you could start polling the team members to figure out their level of trust in the team. In these interviews you can also ask what each interviewee would need to increase their level of trust.
You may not find the answer in a single response but you will see a pattern when you examine the data from the entire team. The pattern uncovers the underlying belief at work. Once you have identified the belief it is easy to design a road-map to change it. Look for a more detailed explanation on how to do that in a future post.