How Can Specific Strategies Help a Business Coach Overcome Challenging Team Dynamics?

How Can Specific Strategies Help a Business Coach Overcome Challenging Team Dynamics?

Navigating complex team dynamics can be a pivotal challenge for leaders, so we've gathered insights from Executive Coaches and Directors to offer their seasoned strategies. From assessing the team's development stage to aligning the team with shared goals, we explore eight distinct strategies that these professionals recommend for overcoming team hurdles.

  • Assess Team's Development Stage
  • Facilitate Trust-Building Workshops
  • Initiate Challenging Conversations
  • Consider Team Member Replacement
  • Lead Open Solution Brainstorming
  • Employ Diverse Engagement Strategies
  • Conduct Empathy-Focused Team Workshops
  • Align Team with Shared Goals

Assess Team's Development Stage

When dealing with team dynamic challenges, I recommend leaders assess their team's stage using Tuckman's Group Development Model. This model helps leaders gain a zoom-out perspective of the current situation, understanding whether their team is in the forming, storming, norming, performing, or adjourning stage. With this insight, leaders can tailor strategies to their team's specific needs, whether that involves improving communication and setting clear expectations, addressing capability gaps, or resolving personality and style conflicts. The key is to remain flexible and adapt approaches as the team evolves. Regularly revisiting and reassessing the team dynamics as situations or people change ensures that strategies remain relevant and effective. This proactive approach fosters a more cohesive and resilient team.

Nannapat Sage
Nannapat SageExecutive Coach, Potentia

Facilitate Trust-Building Workshops

Teams are composed of people, and people make things... hard. Often, I find that team dynamics go off the rails when members of the team don't understand each other. If there is no understanding, there is no trust, and without trust, anything you try to build on your foundation will crumble.

I've helped leaders overcome this by facilitating a series of trust and communication workshops. When you can start to talk about needs related to trust and communication, intent becomes clearer, and the behaviors that have disrupted the dynamic start to make sense. Then, you can start to be more intentional about how the team interacts, and dynamics shift quickly from there.

Leading people is hard. But when approached with courage, curiosity, and consistency, it can be easier.

Shaina Lane
Shaina LaneOwner, Certified Executive Coach, Premier Professional Coaching

Initiate Challenging Conversations

You have to start the conversation. You're the leader; it's part of your job. Set the stage to have a challenging conversation with your team. Open yourself to feedback. Create a safe space to have challenging conversations. Allow everyone to have the stage to share. Be open to some hard feelings. Be open to addressing those hard feelings. Then, move the team forward.

Focus on outcomes, on shared goals, on helping your team to figure it out, together.

Chris Meador
Chris MeadorCareer Strategist & Executive Coach, Yes and Thinking

Consider Team Member Replacement

I recently advised a leader facing a challenging team dynamic to assess if it was worth preserving. While a top performer's exceptional results can sometimes outweigh the disruption they cause, such cases are rare. More often, a toxic team member can significantly hinder overall productivity and morale.

To address this, I suggested taking decisive action to improve the situation. This could involve mediation, coaching, or even letting go of the disruptive team member if necessary. The goal is to create a positive and collaborative team environment where everyone can thrive.

Shawn Boehme
Shawn BoehmeDirector of Sales, PanTerra Networks

Lead Open Solution Brainstorming

As a CEO, to counteract a challenging team dynamic, I led an 'Open Solution Brainstorming' session. I gathered our whole team and presented the issues we were grappling with. I then encouraged everyone to freely share their ideas and possible solutions. This collective problem-solving session not only brought out unique perspectives from different departments but also instilled a sense of ownership among the team. We managed to turn a challenging dynamic into a unifying experience by working through it together.

Abid Salahi
Abid SalahiCo-founder & CEO, FinlyWealth

Employ Diverse Engagement Strategies

Navigating challenging team dynamics to ensure a collaborative, high-impact, and harmonious work environment should involve a few strategies depending on the situation.

Speak to the team often. Encourage transparency through authenticity. Be you, be real, be a leader they know they can count on to have their back. Be open to hearing perspectives from others and encourage them by asking questions that foster your curiosity and genuine interest in what they have to say.

Clearly define each team member’s roles and success metrics. Ensure everyone else understands the roles, too, and how they contribute to the overall goals of the team and the company at large. Make their work mean something.

Get out there and create experiences with your team. Make them fun, genuine, unique, interesting, and geared towards bonding together. Psychologically, that's what bonds people together long-term.

Conflict should be normalized to the point that it's not seen as a big deal. Get people comfortable with it, be an example of how to handle it, and encourage team members to be courageous and respectful about it. The more you normalize it, the easier it will be to deal with issues in real-time as they happen.

Teach emotional intelligence to your team members and show them how they can continue to refine their skills and the collective team's. Practice it every day.

Claudia Fulga
Claudia FulgaFounder & Executive Coach, Claudia Fulga

Conduct Empathy-Focused Team Workshops

One specific strategy we used to help a leader overcome a challenging team dynamic involved implementing structured team-building workshops focused on communication and empathy. We worked with a startup where the leader was struggling with conflicts between the marketing and product development teams. The tension was affecting productivity and morale.

We designed a series of workshops that included role-playing exercises and open-forum discussions. In these sessions, team members were encouraged to express their frustrations and viewpoints in a controlled environment. One memorable activity involved team members swapping roles to better understand each other’s challenges. Developers took on marketing tasks, and vice versa, which fostered empathy and highlighted the pressures each team faced.

Niclas Schlopsna
Niclas SchlopsnaManaging Consultant and CEO, spectup

Align Team with Shared Goals

The best way to overcome a challenging team dynamic is by giving them a shared interest in cooperating towards a common goal. If people don't get along, they may try to be competitive in a way that harms the business by trying to outshine one another instead of working together.

To overcome this, make it clear that their success will be measured as a team, with no individual earning more or less credit for their contributions. When they're clear that they will either succeed or fail together, they'll have the right incentive to try and get along.

Start with something easy for them to achieve that plays on each of their strengths. It may cost you a little time to get them working together, but if you can facilitate repairing whatever damage has occurred across the team dynamic, it's worth it.

Dennis Consorte
Dennis ConsorteDigital Marketing & Leadership Consultant for Startups, Brand Boba

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