The Time Drain of Poor Team Dynamics

by on May 16, 2024

Poor team dynamics interfere with a leader’s daily productivity. On top of time spent fielding outright complaints, leaders also take the brunt of initiating conversations about unspoken tensions that are brewing among team members.

It’s easy to burn out when every day brings another conflict to resolve. It might seem like avoiding team issues altogether will save time and lead to better productivity. Unfortunately, this is a short-term solution that will yield long-term problems.

Here are three myths about conflict resolution that leaders fall into believing and what to focus on instead. 

Myth #1: “They won’t change anyway”

We’ve all worked with that one colleague. You know, the one with intractable behavior issues who seems unaffected by constructive criticism or formal write-ups.

In this scenario it is tempting to write the team member off as a lost cause. But no one is truly uncoachable, and treating them as such is only going to upset the rest of the team. After all, if you have behavioral standards and strive for a collaborative culture, no one should be exempt.

With individuals resistant to growth, the best bet is to actually dig into a deeper relationship with them as their leader. Trust is central to professional success and productivity. Building it with difficult individuals is therefore a crucial piece of conflict resolution.

If your one-on-ones always seem to focus on behavior correction, schedule a meeting that flips the script. Ask what they want to work on this quarter, where they see themselves in five years, or even what’s going on in their personal life. You might gain valuable insight into where their difficult behavior is coming from and be able to offer advice or support.

Myth #2: “It will resolve itself”

Another myth that leaders fall into is the idea that an ignored conflict will eventually go away without intervention. You can think of this concept as the “head in the sand” approach—if I can’t see it, it must not be there!

Unfortunately, conflicts that are left to fester among team members tend to grow, not disappear. An issue between two people may eventually split the entire team into sides, wreaking havoc on productivity and team morale. If you as a leader are made aware and choose to do nothing, this will only serve to encourage team members to deal with the conflict on their own in the manner they see fit.

Another concern is attrition. If conflict avoidance becomes a pattern, some of your best team members will likely seek work elsewhere so they can work to their fullest potential on a functional team.

Myth #3: “I don’t have the time to deal with this”

The final and perhaps most prevalent myth among leaders about poor team dynamics is that you don’t have the time to deal with petty problems day in and day out. It’s easy to convince yourself that you have too many important responsibilities on your plate to play referee among your team members. You didn’t become a leader to break up fights–they’re adults, right?

While this is an understandable perspective, the truth is unresolved conflicts end up taking more of your time if you let them grow. According to Forbes, “The CIPD Conflict Management Survey (2011) estimates that, on average, a grievance takes seven days of management time, often over many months, which adds to the many other costs of conflict, such as legal fees and recruitment.”

Seven work days is a lot of time. And that probably doesn’t account for the mental strain an ongoing conflict exacts, lowering your productivity and blurring work-life boundaries. In contrast, you could spend a few hours or days organizing team dynamics training workshops or facilitating conflict resolution between two team members.

If you’d like some support improving your team dynamics, Teamalytics might be the collaboration you need. After decades of experience working with C-level executives and their teams, Teamalytics has created proprietary analytics and team assessments that yield lasting results. 

You know that avoiding conflict resolution comes with a cost mentally, monetarily, and in your calendar. To weigh the cost of investing in a team development program, download our free guide “Calculating ROI: A Practical Guide for Measuring Return on Human Capital Investments” today.