I recently asked a group, ‘By a show of hands, how many of you have ever printed off a tool, an assessment, or an online quiz and given it to your team to fill out, with the hope of doing some team building or getting them to understand each other better?’ Lots of hands went up.

Then I asked, ‘How many of you have had people upset with their own results after doing such an assessment?’ Not as many hands were raised, but those that were, many were grimly nodding their heads.

There is often at least one person, in a group of 20, who isn’t pleased with how they turn out. Even on self assessments, there can be a perception about what is the most desirable trait, characteristic, behavioural style, thinking style, or team role. It’s therefore important that whoever is administering the tool is able to handle any of the individual disappointment or the damaging accusations that people sometimes experience after completing this kind of tool.

What do I mean by accusations? It’s the perception that one team member has about another. Sometimes, where individuals are already experiencing interpersonal conflict, completing an assessment gives one team member just the ammunition they need to put a small square box – as if this one tool is the only accurate information about the person – around the individual. It can escalate an interpersonal conflict situation and damage team dynamics.

One such example happened recently with a team we’re working with. The 13 person team had conducted self assessments about conflict styles and the perception was that one or two of the five conflict styles were the “ideal” ones. Several people asked some questions to understand a little bit more about the model. One person in particular was initially upset with his results. It took a thorough understanding of the model, the results and the interplay between this particular conflict styles’ model and other models of understanding team roles, behaviours and personalities in order to create a broader context within which he could view his results. At the end of the workshop, we did out-roductions, everyone shared one thing that they were taking away from the workshop. This particular individual, who had been struggling and asking questions about his results, shared that his biggest take away was that any of the conflict styles were valuable given various situations. He clearly seemed relieved that his results were no longer as bad as he feared.

If the team leader conducted such a session and was not as well versed in additional models, it could be more harmful than helpful. The risk is that you can alienate a team member, leaving them feeling unprepared and unequal as a contributing member of the team. This can have a lasting impact if other team members begin to share that view.

The three important aspects to consider as a team leader are:

  1. Understand that assessments can affect team dynamics negatively if you are unprepared.
  2. Choose team building conversations that don’t involve assessments or other people’s tools unless you are well versed in them and would be comfortable handling conflict if it arises.
  3. Consider engaging an external facilitator who’s versed in both the tools and debriefing them if your team needs to understand each other’s behavioural styles, team role styles or conflict styles.

For help facilitating team sessions and administering insightful self-evaluations, contact info@lighthouse9.ca.


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