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Team Leadership: Diagnosing Process Problems

1. Overview

  • Two steps are required to correctly diagnosing behaviors that impede the teams’ progress
  • First, the leader should observe the behavior(s) without making inference(s)
  • Next, the leader should make sense of behavior(s) by inferring meaning to the observation(s) and test their inferences for accuracy by asking appropriate questions
  • The leader can overcome challenges to diagnosing process problems by focusing on individual/group behavior vs. content or intent

2. Diagnose Behaviors that Impact Team Effectiveness

3. Step 1 Observing Behavior

  • Observe verbal and non-verbal communications
  • Observe rather than infer (inference could be incorrect)
  • Use exact behavior(s) as raw data for your inference, diagnosis, and intervention
  • Compare behavior to ground rules

4. Step 2 Infer Meaning to the Observation

  • Infer meaning to the cause of the behavior (i.e., emotion, motive)
  • Make sure past inferences don’t coloring future observations
    • Ex. Ask “Is this inference based on a recent observation?”
  • Don’t make assumptions about team members intentions
    • Ex. Ask “I noticed you pushed away from the table, does that mean you disagree with the team?”
  • Look for behaviors, interactions, patterns, reoccurrences, and correlations

5. Challenges in Diagnosing Problems

  • Making diagnoses in the midst of the conversation
    • Solution: Practice observing  comments and behaviors which are inconsistent with ground rules
  • Attending constantly to the team
    • Solution: Focus on reducing distractions in order to observe and simultaneously diagnose
  • Observing multiple behaviors simultaneously
    • Solution: Pay attention to repetitive behaviors that are not aligned with group processes or ground rules
  • Reducing distortion
    • Solution: Separate your personal issues, beliefs, and biases from your observations
  • Being drawn in by the content
    • Solution: Scrutinize content for the sole purpose of examining the process
  • Expanding diagnostic frames
    • Solution: Examine the perspective that you are using to diagnose team members’ behaviors to make sure  that your analysis is not erroneous