The team I was observing was churning and losing time (this was the only thing to which they agreed).
They were trying to determine their plan forward, but disagreement on how best to proceed had them paralyzed. They were fixated on gaining consensus. The debate was merely a combination of verbal attacks and oral aikido.
Regrettably, when agreement wasn’t achieved, they put a dagger in their productivity by planning another meeting. Their responsibilities—and potential—as a team postponed again.
There’s a better way. Members of healthy teams don’t have to reach 100% agreement to be aligned and deliver fully on the team’s plan. That’s because they possess a wisdom that goes like this: I believe what we’re doing as a team is bigger than me. Together we’re better than any individual, including me.
And then the key: I can demonstrate this knowledge by giving my best effort even when decisions have been made of which I disagree.
On unhealthy teams, team members may not say it, but they can feel that the team lacks a critical bond. Therefore, they press for consensus to the plan because they think that if they walk out the door without total agreement, they are at high risk of the plan falling apart.
But if a team is divided into parts, their plan will surely fall apart even if meaningless verbal agreement is achieved.
Here are 3 productivity-improving questions to ask your team:
1. Do we have to be in complete agreement before we’re aligned?
2. Can we disagree with one another and remain aligned as we execute our plan? (What does it look like to do so?)
3. A question for each teammate: Do you give your best-ever effort to our team’s plan when you disagree with aspects of the plan? (And what’s necessary to do so?)
Ultimately: Do the members of your team want to be a part of something bigger than themselves? It’s worth knowing.