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- There are systematic steps in the intervention process
- First, the leader must determine whether or not to intervene
- Next the leader should share observations of the team in action, figure out ineffective behavior, and intervene to increase team function
- To avoid misunderstandings, leaders should carefully choose words that convey the meaning they intend
- Knowing the right questions to ask, will improve the leader’s ability to support behavioral changes
2. Intervention Steps for Ineffective Teams
3. Step 3 Decide Whether, How, and Why to Intervene
- Ask the following questions:
- Have I observed the behavior enough to make reliable diagnosis?
- To what extent is the behavior hindering the group’s effectiveness?
- What are the consequences of not intervening?
- Can I intervene later and avoid negative consequences?
- Have I contracted with the group to make this type of intervention?
- Do I have the skills to intervene? If not, do I need an external party to help?
4. Step 4 Share Your Observation
- Explain the intervention before beginning
- Ex. “I want to check if the conversation is on track.”
- Share the observation not the inference
- Ex. Your face turned red and you pushed away from the table” vs. “You are angry”
- Expect a team member to have a different perspective or disagree with you
- Ex. Ask them, “Have I misstated anything?” or “Tell me what I missed.”
- Ask team member to repeat what they said
- Ex. “I want to follow up on what you just said, but I want to make sure I didn’t miss something.”
5. Step 5 Share Your Inference
- Use the lowest level of inference required
- Ex. “I’m inferring you don’t want to support “X” because you don’t trust “Y” will help you. Is my inference correct? vs. “You are not a very trusting person.”
- Explain how the behavior is problematic
- Ex. “I’m inferring you are thinking “A” causes “B,” is that correct? I’m asking because if this proves to be a faulty assumption, the solution will not work.”
- Be prepared for the team member to disagree
- Ex. “Is my inference off in any way? What meaning did you make?”
6. Step 6 Help Group Decide Whether and How to Change Behavior
- Ask team members to check inferences or share interests rather than positions
- Ex. “Would you be willing to test/share…?”
- Avoid viewing reluctance as resistance; show compassion rather than judgment
- Ex. Ask, “Is there a reason why you’re not ready to move forward?” or “Do you have unmet needs?”
7. Leader's Language Choices
8. Examples of Effective Intervention Questions
- I want to check something out. I think you said…is that right?
- Can you supply more information so that we can get a better picture of the situation?
- Would you be willing to say what you mean by “XYZ” and give some examples…?
- Can you share with the team how you arrived at your conclusion?
- Would you be willing to ask others what problems, if any, they see with your plan?
- Would you be willing to jointly design a way to test whether the solution meets the criteria?
- I am inferring that at least three of you have some concern about…Is that what you were thinking or is there something else?
- I sense that you feel pressured to support the proposal now or you changed your mind. What led to the change?
Proceed to other Teamwork and Team Leadership guides