(This is a repost of my LinkedIn article)
When I was a fresh HR advisor and then later internal Organisation Development consultant, I was often called in by team leaders to run a “team-building” session. Or, to improve team performance. More often than not the trigger was disagreement, conflict, poor performance or general dissatisfaction with the quality and effectiveness of team outcomes. As one manager said, “I need you to help my team play nicely together. You are good at that soft and fluffy stuff”.
At the time I had been schooled in a variety of tools and methodologies that looked at differences within the team and how, if these differences were addressed, would result in improved performance. I held a belief that “competent interpersonal relations are essential for effective task performance and that group members themselves must be intimately involved in analysing and improving those relationships.” (Hackman & Wageman, 2005).
In my toolkit were assessments, guides and other team-building trickery that would result in people being identified either on or in various 2 by 2 matrices, labelled or coloured. I remember during one certification programme the instructor going to great lengths to reinforce that this tool was not about labelling people…and then promptly handed out badges with our ‘labels’ that we were to wear for the rest of the programme.