“Round up the usual suspects,” the gendarme ordered in the famous line from the movie Casablanca. And frequently, that is how executives think when they create teams, committees, or task forces. The boss says or thinks something like, “Let’s appoint anyone who might know something about this issue.” Or, even more likely, “Grab anybody who’s got a stake in this thing.”
Organizations, of course, love such groups because when they work, they can improve coordination, help employees feel more involved, and maybe even spur innovation. However, when they flop—or, more commonly, just lapse into mediocrity—they can drain an organization of its vitality and leave a legacy of posturing, power struggles, and misunderstandings.
Designing a Group
We naively assume any group can automatically be a team. However, one of the biggest reasons that teams misfire is that personality differences are ignored.
If, when you create a team, you employ knowledge of the four behavioral styles, you greatly improve its chances for success. You need to take into account that there are natural allies and antagonists among the styles and also that each style functions best at a different phase in the life cycle of a team.
The Natural Cycle of Groups
Work groups typically follow a cycle, just like the organizations which spawn them. They face predictable obstacles, rise to the occasion or fail, and as a result, either evolve or deteriorate. At every stage in that cycle, each of the various behavioral styles can be a help or a hindrance.
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