team building and leadership expert michael cardus

Just look at all this in-fighting, back-biting, and underhanded manipulation of other team-members!

We need to fire these bad people and supply the team with skills in conflict, communication, and teamwork plus give them some psychological profile so people can better understand why they behave like they do and then somehow change.

That rarely ever works.


The behaviors you notice are symptoms. Focusing on behavioral skills will do little to shift the team from dysfunction to function.

What can you do?

1. Define the team’s purpose

A team is a team when there is a reason for being together. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of people in a room wasting time. The purpose is the team’s reason for being. It needs to be clear, known & shared in every communication + interaction.

5 valuable points to define a team’s purpose.
  1. What  – A single sentence that explains what the team is meant to accomplish.
  2. Quality – How good does the work have to be?
  3. Quantity – How much of the good stuff do we need?
  4. Time Frame – How long will it take to accomplish the task? The ‘by-when.’
  5. Resources – The budget, people, equipment, access, etc.… that is available and needed to accomplish the task.
2. Clarify Accountability & Authority of the Team, plus Team Members

We all share accountability to complete this goal” is wrong. We cannot hold a team accountable. We can only keep the individual on the team responsible for accomplishing their delegated piece of the overall project. If people on the team feel they all share accountability, they will assume power positions and stress that is not needed.

3. Performance Support Systems

Team members need to know who is evaluating their work and what mechanisms are in place for appraisal of the work and how progress/regress will be judged and what will happen with underperforming team members.

Once the above are in place, then we can turn to skills.

What happens if the three items are not established and in place?

Dysfunction-Junction, this is when you see negative behaviors amplified, and the skills that are needed to function in this team environment are different.

  • A team member without a clear understanding of their accountability and authority within the team will have to be skilled at either persuading, forcing or bullying other team-members into working along to accomplish the goals.
  • A team leader who has no authority to delegate tasks to the team will have to work hard at finding other ways to use the team to get the work done.
  • Teams without a shared and defined purpose will become great at wasting time in meetings and fighting amongst political and personal lines.

image by Budzlife