Textbooks seem to accentuate the attributes of effective team dynamics. This is necessary in order to teach people how to build morale and pride among project team members. Unfortunately, there are negative team dynamics that must also be recognized and dealt with. People can learn from failures in organizational dynamics as well as from what works.
Project managers must be good facilitators and be able to see not only the obvious, but what else is happening that may not be apparent to the rest of the people in the meeting. In other words, facilitators must be experts in identifying negative dynamics or actions that can disrupt the intent of the meeting. Reading body language can certainly help. Unfortunately, sometimes project managers and facilitators create negative dynamics without realizing it.
Items that are initiators of negative team dynamics include:
- Having poor communication channels than can create a mindset among some team members that they do not feel as though they are part of the team
- Asking people to exhibit creativity for activities that do not require creativity
- Asking people to unnecessarily perform work outside of their comfort zone
- Failing to insulate the team from politics and possibly conflicting cultures
- Asking the team to create a project culture that may be in conflict with the traditional corporate culture
- Asking people to act unethically or in violation of standards
- Failing to put yourself in their shoes and seeing the their side of the issue during conflicts with the team
- Failing to recognize that team members are not sharing information freely among one another
- Failing to recognize that some of the team members have their own personal agendas concerning the project
- Allowing the team to believe that they are in competition with other projects in the company
- Failing to resolve conflicts in a timely manner
- Failing to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the team
- Failing to provide feedback on performance
- Providing personal criticism rather than constructive feedback
- Always questioning decisions made by team members
- Believing that your solution is the only correct approach and forcing the solution on the team without soliciting feedback
- Failing to listen to or value the opinion of your team members even if you do not believe in their solutions to a problem
There are certainly more items that could be included in this list. But it should be evident that there are numerous ways to initiate negative team dynamics. In the past, project managers learned facilitation skills and both positive and negative dynamics from trial and error solutions based on their own experiences. Today, many of the more advanced training courses on project management discuss negative team dynamics.