Mental Muscle Diagram Indicator™
Team Dynamics Assessment Report
Private and Confidential
Team Dynamics are the usually-unseen forces in a team that can strongly influence how a team reacts, behaves or performs. The effects of team dynamics can be good, but they can also have a detrimental impact on collective performance and how each team member, customer or stakeholder relates to the team. Team dynamics are never the result of one person's actions, but they result from the actions of the whole team and their external relations - i.e.: every team member contributes to them, as do other people outside the team. This report can be used as the basis of a team discussion aimed at becoming more aware of the team's dynamics and at producing actions to manage them better.
As an example of a team dynamic, suppose there is a small team of six people working in one office, and two people have a particularly strong friendship. This friendship is a team dynamic that may help or hinder team performance, depending on their roles. If, for the team to be successful, they need to communicate very well then having a good friendship can help that communication. On the other hand, if their roles are on different sides of a 'chinese wall' (e.g.: one being responsible for financial transactions, the other having an independent audit role) then their friendship can undermine teamwork by creating suspicion in the minds of other team members (even if their behaviour is exemplary). Team dynamics can be created by many different types of factors, such as:
Some of these team dynamics are easy to spot - such as an office layout that creates separates sub-teams - but others are more difficult to observe. This report can help by:
Please note that team dynamics are never the result on one person's actions alone, but are due to the behaviours of the whole team and the context in which the team operates. If the team were to 'blame' particular people for any problematic team dynamics this would be to commit the error of scapegoating.
This report is based on the MTR-i™ team role model, which in turn is derived from C.G. Jung's theory of psychological types. A team role is a style of individual or group behaviour that can be used within the team. For example, if a team try to find a point on which they all agree then they are, collectively, harmonising. Collective agreement cannot be reached by one person on their own - it is an activity that requires the participation of every team member.
A High Performing Team is able to adapt appropriately, that is: to use whichever team role is most appropriate for the circumstances at the time. For example, once agreement has been reached the team may use the Activating team role, which means to take collective action on the agreement, or to put what has been agreed into practice.
Team dynamics can sometimes hinder healthy team adaptation by causing the inappropriate use of particular team roles - that is, a team role is used when it is not the best role for the circumstances. Such inappropriate use of team roles may involve the underuse, overuse or ambivalent use of certain team roles.
Underuse occurs when the team tends to dislike or avoids using a particular team role. The team may be able to use many roles in the team, but they don't use this one even when it is appropriate to do so. E.g.: the underuse of Harmonising may lead to too many arguments and everyone working independently rather than as a team.
Overuse occurs when a team has a particularly strong preference or attachment to a team role. The team use that role far too often, even in situations when it is inappropriate. E.g.: the overuse of harmonising suppresses conflict which means the team fails to identify and resolve difficult problems. Superficially, it may feel as if it is a good team, but the overall performance will suffer.
Ambivalent use is a combination of underuse and overuse. This occurs when the team are unable to use the team role in a balanced and flexible way. They may therefore initially avoid using it but, when their failure is pointed out or the team comes under extreme pressure, they may suddenly switch to overusing it - lurching from one extreme to the other. E.g.: if it is pointed out to a team that they spend too much time arguing, they may then withdraw and avoid conflict altogether; they fail to find the right balance, which is to reach agreement. An analogy to illustrate ambivalent use of team roles is a broken (analogue) volume control where, as the control is turned, the sound cuts in and out, going from very loud to very quiet, but never reaches the desirable volume that is between the two extremes.
The table below provides a brief introduction to each of the team roles and indicates, according to the results of the TDA questionnaire, how healthy the team's use of each role is likely to be:
|Role||Description||Overuse Score||Underuse Score||Combined Score|
|Clarifying||Producing, collecting, and sharing information, and making use of the knowledge and experience in the team||40%||43%||42%|
|Analysing||Using shared models, theories or frameworks to identify the causes of problems or provide explanations of how things work||50%||45%||48%|
|Innovating||Coming up with radical ideas and/or a vision that sets the long term direction to which the whole team is working||37%||78%||57%|
|Campaigning||Upholding the team's values and identity, focusing on what is most important, and not being distracted by what is unimportant||35%||63%||49%|
|Harmonising||Building agreements, creating a good team spirit, and building relationships both within the team and with other people/teams||76%||52%||64%|
|Exploring||Starting shared initiatives and trying out new ways of doing things to realise the team's potential and develop new opportunites||33%||69%||51%|
|Conducting||Getting things well organised and properly structured, using team processes/procedures to coordinate the people and resources involved||33%||41%||37%|
|Activating||Getting things done, taking concerted action and responding to urgent matters as they present themselves to the team||67%||29%||48%|
The questionnaire results suggest that there are a few problems present that the team needs to address. The team's results are a little worse than the average for a team that has completed this questionnaire. That is, the team appears to be operating pretty well (at least, as far as its collective psychological functioning is concerned). There are no indications of any problems. This suggests that the team is reasonably adaptable and flexible, being able to change its behaviour according to the demands of the situation. The table below shows a more detailed analysis of your results, each bar showing the likelihood of there being an underuse or overuse of each team role:
There is a brief description of what underuse and overuse of each team role means on the next page, and more detail is provided later in the report.
The primary value of this report is as the starting point for a team discussion that is focused on improving the team's dynamics. To get this discussion going, you may find it useful to consider the following questions:
The following table provides some examples of the types of behaviours involved in underuse and overuse of the various team roles.
|They fail to recognise they haven't communicated with each other||
|They collect and keep far too much information|
|They are unaware of consequences because they don't think things through logically||
(using models, theories or frameworks)
|They waste a lot of time nitpicking each others' arguments|
|The team are unable to understand other people's/team's perspectives||
(producing radical ideas or vision)
|The team has unrealistic ambitions or ideas|
|They team tries to do too much and they thereby compromise their core values||
(focusing on what's important)
|The team alienates other people by pursuing their own causes too vehemently|
|Individual team members work to their own goals, not the team goals||
|Team performance suffers because members fail to engage in constructive conflict|
|They are stuck in a rut, only doing what they've always done||
(trying new ways of doing things)
|They start too many initiatives without completing them or closing them off|
|Chaos results from an absence of proper organisation||
(organising things correctly)
|The rules/processes are used rigidly, and the team is inflexible/bureaucratic|
|They procrastinate or spend too much time thinking||
(getting things done)
|They take action too quickly without sufficient thought|
On the pages that follow there are detailed descriptions of each of the eight team roles, including more detailed descriptions of what can happen when each role is underused or overused in the team. There are also more questions that may prove useful as the basis of a team discussion about its own team dynamics and team performance. The team roles are listed in order of potential problems - i.e.: the ones with the highest combined scores, for underuse and overuse, are listed first.
Please remember that any issues identified by this questionnaire are the collective results of the whole team and the cultural context in which it operates. The issues do not result from the action of any particular individual(s) in the team, and to think so would be to make the mistake of scapegoating. In case of uncertainty, please enlist the help of a consultant with relevant knowledge and experience to help resolve any conflicts.
When used appropriately, the Harmonising team role is used to build relationships, forge agreement and create team spirit. Harmonising focuses on building rapport with people, creating a positive team atmosphere, looking after people's welfare, motivating people and/or providing a service to the satisfaction of others. Harmonising values people's contributions, seeks to develop the role that others play, and invests a lot of effort in building positive relationships. Harmonising tries to overcome differences of opinion and find ways in which the team can agree.
If the Harmonising team role is used insufficiently then the team avoid building relationships and developing rapport, focusing on their own agendas and only communicating on an impersonal, task basis - interactions within the team become more like negotiations than cooperation. The result can be a very political team where they find it hard to reach consensus, because they each fight for their own corner. They also fail to provide inadequate support to each other, in extreme cases deliberately letting other team members fail or sabotaging their efforts. They may discourage and demotivate people in, or associated with, the team because they are working independently at the team's expense. A facilitator can counter underuse of Harmonising by:
If the Harmonising team role is used to excess then harmony becomes more important than team performance. Healthy conflict is then repressed and team performance hampered because difficult issues are not being tackled and there is a loss of creative conflict. The team fails to identify and discuss differences of opinion, they compromise too much, they build team spirit at the expense of creative argument and they fail to make enough demands of each other and people outside the team. A facilitator can counter overuse of Harmonising by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results suggest that the team may be making ambivalent use the Harmonising team role - that is, sometimes underusing it and at other times overusing it, without finding the right balance in between. The team may therefore:
When used appropriately, the Innovating team role is used to create new and different ideas and perspectives. Innovating observes the world around and then uses imagination to consider what has been observed from a number of different perspectives. Innovating dreams up new ideas and insights and often produces radical solutions to problems. It demonstrates an apparent understanding of the unknown, e.g.: having a long-term vision of the future, being able to imagine what might be happening elsewhere today, or having inexplicable insight into past events.
If the Innovating team role is used insufficiently then the team may be unable to see anything except their own perspectives. They may find it difficult to understand or appreciate how others might have differing views, be devoid of new ideas and lack a long-term strategy or vision that extends beyond the immediate objectives before them. They may also find themselves confronted with lots of unanticipated problems (that could have been anticipated with the use of a little imagination) and then find it difficult to solve those problems if they require creative solutions. A facilitator can counter underuse of Innovating by:
If the Innovating team role is used to excess then the team starts to imagine things that are somewhat detached from reality. They may develop ideas or a long-term vision that may be grandiose and unrealistic. They may suggest things that, to those outside the team, seem unrelated to the team's current objectives or that may simply be unachievable. They start to imagine that they understand things that are happening or likely to happen elsewhere, but objective observers recognise that such views do not agree with the known facts. A facilitator can counter overuse of Innovating by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results indicate that the team is underusing the Innovating team role. That is, the team may:
When used appropriately, the Exploring team role is used to promote change and the exploration of new and better ways of doing things. Exploring uncovers hidden potential in people, things or situations. Exploring breaks new ground, and is often looking one step beyond the current situation to pursue unexplored avenues, until all the possibilities have been exhausted. Exploring often challenges the status quo and experiments with the introduction of change, to see if the situation can be improved or new potential uncovered.
If the Exploring team role is used insufficiently then the team may fail to recognise the potential benefits that change might bring. They continue to do what they have always done and don't experiment with any change where the outcome is not fully certain. They may reject good ideas with hidden potential because the proposal doesn't contain enough certainty for them. Because of their over-reliance on what's worked before, they fail to improve their performance. New opportunities may arise but the team fails to spot them, let alone exploit them. A facilitator can counter underuse of Exploring by:
If the Exploring team role is used to excess then the team starts to introduce change for change's sake. They start down one unexplored avenue but then see another potential opportunity which they start pursuing without completing or closing off the first. They may also make the mistake of changing a winning team or formula because they think things can always be improved, but they fail to assess properly the impact of that change and/or fail to extract the full benefit from things that are already working well. If they are a management team then their staff may suffer from change fatigue. A facilitator can counter overuse of Exploring by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results indicate that the team is underusing the Exploring team role. That is, the team may:
When used appropriately, the Campaigning team role is used to focus on those particular thoughts, ideas, or beliefs that are most important. Campaigning is value driven, and in a team discussion Campaigning often brings a sense of priority that is derived from strong convictions. Campaigning seizes upon and emphasises ideas or thoughts that have the greatest import, bringing them to the fore and stressing their significance. Campaigning assesses the inherent value or importance of new ideas, focusing on those about which the team members feel most strongly.
If the Campaigning team role is used insufficiently then the team fails to distinguish what is important, or regards everything as important. The team will therefore try to do everything, ending up with too many things to do, causing them and others stress. It will also inhibit performance because not enough time or attention is being given to those things that really matter. A facilitator can counter underuse of Campaigning by:
If the Campaigning team role is used to excess then certain values or beliefs take overriding importance at the expense of other things. The team take an uncompromising stance on certain issues and employ tactics to promote them that, whilst seeming reasonable and justified to the team, cause concern to others and seem to cross the boundary of reasonableness. This strong stand can therefore alienate others and generate opposition to the things they are trying to promote. Also, the team fail to engage in what others see as reasonable or rational debate, because their discussion is overly driven by their values/beliefs. A facilitator can counter overuse of Campaigning by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results suggest that the team may be underusing the Campaigning team role. That is, the team may:
When used appropriately, the Activating team role is used to bring things to fruition by getting things done, and getting them done now! Activating is very action-oriented, dealing with whatever tasks the current situation presents, and spurring others into action as well. Activating makes use of experience and utilises tools or processes of which the team already have knowledge. Activating tries to have an immediate impact on things, injecting a sense of urgency, and aiming to achieve clear goals and tangible results.
If the Activating team role is used insufficiently then the team may find it difficult to move forward to action, spending most of their time thinking about different ideas, trying alternative solutions or doing anything except the task that is directly in front of them. They not only fail to take action, but they may ignore present realities, respond too slowly to urgent matters and spend too much time discussing things rather than doing them. At extreme, they may miss the obvious and urgent needs that are in front of them. A facilitator can counter underuse of Activating by:
If the Activating team role is used to excess then the team starts to move too quickly to action without thinking things through. Getting things done becomes all-important, so the team takes too short-term a view, sacrificing the long-term by taking expedient action. Whilst they may achieve short-term objectives, they may fail to recognise the importance of laying foundations for future work. This can result in the wasted or duplicated effort at a later date. They may also limit themselves to tried and trusted solutions and fail to make long term improvements to their work. A facilitator can counter overuse of Activating by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results indicate that the team is overusing the Activating team role. That is, the team may:
When used appropriately, the Analysing team role provides explanation of how and why things happen. Analysing solves problems by introducing a logical structure into the organisation of ideas and information. Analysing involves formulating hypotheses and explanations of how things function, and gathering evidence to assess how true those explanations are. Analysing produces mental models that replicate how particular aspects of the world work, and tries to understand the full complexity of any situation.
If the Analysing team role is used insufficiently then the team may fail to analyse problems sufficiently. This means they may be unable to solve difficult problems or may not even realise there is a problem to be solved. They may see things in too-simple terms, not appreciating the complexity of the situation, and not realising the consequences of their decisions or actions. They therefore adopt solutions that have a high chance of failure. A facilitator can counter underuse of Analysing by:
If the Analysing team role is used to excess then the team critique everthing, including each others ideas, and get locked into fruitless debate. Discussions become circular because team members find fault with the contributions of others in the team and wait for them to concede their point. Colleagues defend by attacking the other's argument, so the discussion goes round in circles. The team may also overcomplicate things and bring in extraneous considerations that don't need to be taken into account. A facilitator can counter overuse of Analysing by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results suggest that the team may be making ambivalent use the Analysing team role - that is, sometimes underusing it and at other times overusing it, without finding the right balance in between. The team may therefore:
When used appropriately, the Clarifying team role is used to collect, produce or preserve information, ideas and understanding. When a team is Clarifying they listen, ask questions and absorb information, so that in their mind's eye they can achieve as clear a picture or understanding as is possible. They expand their knowledge and collection of experiences, and also look to the future by envisaging clear goals and clear pathways to achievement of those goals. The focus on clarity also brings greater attention to detail.
If the Clarifying team role is used insufficiently then the team may fail to keep important information, check it's accuracy or clarify the information they exchange. The team may also fail to capitalise on its experience, not recognising the valuable asset they have in their collective knowledge. In team meetings they may fall into 'scope creep', where they go off at tangents or expand the topic under discussion so that they are trying to solve a different problem from the original one. They may also misunderstand each other without realising, because of the ambiguities in their discussions. They fail to check they have a common understanding, and therefore communicate inconsistent messages to people outside the team. A facilitator can counter underuse of Clarifying by:
If the Clarifying team role is used to excess then the team puts too much effort into clarifying and holding data for its own sake. They ask for too much information, record it in too much detail and keep it for too long. Rather than being a valuable asset, knowledge then starts to become a handicap for the team, their performance can start to collapse under the weight of the information they hold and the effort required in looking after it. They also spend so much time looking at the detail that they 'miss the wood for the trees', failing to see the bigger picture. They may also be unwilling to make assumptions, not making decisions until every 'i' is dotted and every 't' crossed. A facilitator can counter overuse of Clarifying by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results indicate that the team is using the Clarifying team role normally, i.e.: when it is appropriate to do so. Whilst it may still be possible to improve, care should be taken when considering any further action not to undermine the team performance in this area.
When used appropriately, the Conducting team role is used to introduce organisation and a logical structure into the way things are done. Conducting organises and systematises the world around the team, establishing appropriate plans, identifying and implementing the correct procedures, and then endeavouring to make sure they are followed. Conducting tries to ensure that roles and responsibilities are properly defined and that appropriate resources or skills are available to undertake the work assigned.
If the Conducting team role is used insufficiently then the team may fail to organise themselves properly, fail to have clear roles and responsibilities, lack appropriate procedures, and perhaps have a mismatch of skills between people and tasks. The result can be a great deal of inefficiency in the way they work, reinvention of the wheel and duplication of effort. The team may lose focus and meander through their work, failing to coordinate effort or make best use of the skills they have. A facilitator can counter underuse of Conducting by:
If the Conducting team role is used to excess then the team make the procedures and rules too rigid. They adhere too closely to the 'letter of the law' and depart from the 'spirit of the law'. They stifle spontaneous creativity by trying to structure it and impose a procedure on everything they do where flexibility or individual variations are not allowed. They may also have such a task focus that they are unaware of the detrimental impact the rules and procedures have on individuals and their motivation. A facilitator can counter overuse of Conducting by:
|The scores achieved were:|
The questionnaire results indicate that the team is using the Conducting team role normally, i.e.: when it is appropriate to do so. Whilst it may still be possible to improve, care should be taken when considering any further action not to undermine the team performance in this area.
Q1: The questionnaire results suggest that there are some problems in the way the team operates. Are the results of the report correct? If such barriers to teamwork were removed, what impact might there be in terms of team performance - e.g.: in achieving better results, or saving money/time, or making work more enjoyable or meaningful?
Q2: What are the overall themes, from the results of the questionnaire, about the way the team is working?
Q3: How can we strike the right balance in our discussions, eg: to discuss emotional issues but without becoming too emotional
Q4: What is our long term vision as a team?
Q5: Should we set aside time, perhaps on a regular basis, specifically to look for ways of improving or developing the work we do?
Q6: What are our priorities, and what are we going to stop doing in order to focus on those priorities?
Q7: What is our long term strategy or vision? Does what we are doing today help us realise that strategy?
Q8: How can we strike the right balance in the team between analysing problems and agreeing with each other?
Q9: How can we improve the way we use our information and experience in the team?
Q10: How can we strike an even better balance in the team between efficiency and effectiveness?