Eight Strategies for Handling Disruptive Situations
Within many workplace environments, leaders will find themselves in the role of team facilitator. In this capacity, leaders must direct and control team meetings and discussions in order to allow for the free-flow of ideas by all members of the team.
Within the team environment, leaders are dealing with a group of individuals who each has a personal agenda, bias and perspective. In many circumstances, leaders can effectively mold these individuals into a working team. In others, one or more members can stoutly resist the work of the team. These members may not agree with the purpose of the team or feel it threatens their personal position. Unfortunately, these individuals can be disruptive enough to prevent the team from functioning, frustrating leaders and members alike.
Leaders should understand that when individuals are given the opportunity to openly participate and make their views known, some will actively work against the leader and the progress of the team. As these individuals can be devious or openly hostile, it is essential that leaders recognize their behaviors for what they are. Once done there are specific actions leaders can take to handle these individuals or motivate the team to police themselves.
Due to the nature of group dynamics, leaders should anticipate and be prepared for the fact that an individual’s behavior might occasionally disrupt team discussions.
Anticipate and Prevent
When individuals organize into effective teams, most problems can be anticipated and prevented. This happens as members spend time getting to know each other, establishing ground rules and agreeing to norms of group behavior.
Many problems arise because individual team members allow or even encourage them in some manner. Leaders should examine each problem in light of what the team allows and encourages, and what it can do to facilitate more constructive behavior.
Teams can exhibit a variety of behaviors: some minor occurrences that don’t inhibit team discussion and progress, others highly disruptive and even chronic.
Leaders must respond appropriately to the seriousness of the problem, ignoring fleeting disruptions while directly confronting chronic or seriously disruptive behaviors. Experienced leaders as facilitators develop a range of responses to typical problems.
There are times when leaders need not intervene, as individual team members will handle the offending behavior themselves. In this case leaders should be available to guide and direct discussions provoked when one member confronts another.
Leaders can discuss the problem or situation outside of the group environment with disruptive team members. Constructive feedback should be given and solutions agreed to.
Impersonal Group Time
Leaders can discuss the problem with the entire team prior to their meeting in order to focus their attention on how they encourage the problem and what they can do differently to discourage it. The problem should be treated as a team issue, with discussions of personalities and personality issues avoided
When other attempts have failed to rectify the offending behaviors in the team setting, leaders must become more assertive with the responsible parties. Direct action can be taken by the leader to remedy the situation.
As a last resort and when all other approaches have failed, leaders may need to deal with offending behaviors in the presence of the team. In such an instance they expose the member(s) responsible for the offending behaviors to the open critique of the team.
This technique must be used sparingly, with leaders anticipating reactions and responses in order to minimize the hostility and defensiveness of offending team members.
Excerpt: Boosting Team Communication: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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