Team dynamics play a significant role in the success of any organization. While the signs may not be visible from the outside, the results can speak volumes. A well-functioning sales team can achieve exceptional results, while a dysfunctional team can hinder progress and even lead to organizational failure. Unfortunately, many teams suffer from toxic behaviors and dysfunctional patterns that can be challenging to address.
Research shows that 50-75% of employees have experienced some form of workplace bullying or incivility, and the negative impact of such behaviors can spread throughout an organization. Additionally, dysfunctional team dynamics can lead to reduced productivity, increased employee turnover, and decreased job satisfaction.
Therefore, leaders must address toxic behaviors and overcome dysfunctional patterns in their teams. “I was part of a sales team that had three GenX members and four GenZ members. Unknown to ourselves, we had formed two sub-teams within the sales team and created a gap between the seven of us! It became more toxic as time went by and there was a serious communication gap by the time we realized where the problem lay,” said a millennial sales professionalfrom a reputed company in Bangalore, India.
Recognizing Toxic Behaviors
The first step in addressing toxic behaviors is to recognize them. Toxic behaviors can manifest in various ways, including bullying, gossiping, passive-aggressiveness, and micro-management. These behaviors can negatively impact team morale, motivation, and productivity.
Leaders must identify toxic behaviors and take action to address them promptly. This can involve having difficult conversations with team members, setting clear expectations and boundaries, and providing feedback to help employees change their behavior. It isn’t only restricted to sales professionalsand people within the sales department, as these solutions could impact any niche or department in companies.
Addressing Toxic Behaviors
Addressing toxic behaviors requires a proactive approach from leaders. Sales account managersneed to figure out where they are going wrong and formulate a customized solution to help their team. Here are some tips on how to address toxic behaviors in your sales team:
- Set clear expectations: It’s essential to set clear expectations for team behavior from the outset. This can involve developing a code of conduct, outlining expectations for communication and collaboration, and providing regular feedback to team members.
- Communicate effectively: Communication is key in addressing toxic behaviors and keeping your team on good terms. Sales account managers need tolearn to communicate expectations clearly and effectively, and be willing to have difficult conversations with their employees whenever necessary.
- Hold team members accountable: Leaders must hold team members accountable for their behavior. This can involve providing consequences for toxic behavior, such as reprimands or disciplinary action.
- Provide feedback: Providing regular feedback to team members can help them recognize and address toxic behaviors. Feedback should be specific, actionable, and delivered constructively at the right time. Don’t wait for things to get worse or take shape before addressing them. Always learn to nip toxicity from your culture in the budding stage.
- Lead by example: Leaders must model the behavior they expect from their team members. This involves setting a positive example and demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes they want to see in their team.
- Foster a positive culture: Creating a positive team culture can help prevent toxic behaviors from arising in the first place. This can involve promoting inclusivity, respect, and open communication.
- Encourage collaboration: Encouraging collaboration can help prevent toxic behaviors by fostering a sense of teamwork and shared goals. This can involve assigning tasks and projects that require collaboration and providing opportunities for team members to work together.
- Build trust: Building trust is crucial in addressing toxic behaviors. Leaders must create a safe environment where team members feel comfortable discussing issues and seeking support.
- Address issues promptly: Leaders must address toxic behaviors promptly and directly. Delaying action can allow the behavior to continue and worsen. For all you know, it could reach a point of no return by the time you decide things have gone too far.
- Provide resources: Providing resources, such as training and coaching, can help team members recognize and address toxic behaviors. This can involve providing access to mental health resources, conflict resolution training, and leadership coaching.
- Encourage Self-Care: Encourage team members to practice self-care to avoid burnout or stress-related behaviors. This may include taking breaks, prioritizing their mental and physical health, and seeking support if needed.
- Seek Professional Help: Consider bringing in an outside consultant or therapist to mediate conflicts or provide support to team members who are struggling. There are times when employees tend to project their insecurities on fellow employees or even take out their personal frustrations at work. In such cases, you can maintain better harmony with support, not aggression or warnings.
- Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Encourage team members to continually reflect on their behavior and performance and seek opportunities for growth and development. Despite their age or gender differences, encourage them to seek two-way feedback and scope for improvement without bias.
Dysfunctional Teams in the Market
Dysfunctional teams can be particularly problematic in the market, where teamwork and collaboration are essential for success. A lot of these real-life examples of dysfunctional teams are from our current market, although the names have been kept anonymous. If you can relate these issues to your teams, then it’s time to take action.
- Marketing Teams With Communication Gaps: A marketing team that struggles with communication and fails to deliver consistent messaging, leading to confusion and poor brand perception. How can your team communicate good brand values and maintain a healthy sales pipelinewhen they can’t even speak effectively among themselves? Can such employees be trusted to take direct calls with clients?
- Project Teams With Poor Conflict Management: A project team that is unable to manage conflict effectively, leads to missed deadlines and increased costs. It would also reflect your business poorly in the eyes of your clients when they find out your flaws.
- Sales Teams That Compete Against Themselves: In some organizations, sales teams may be pitted against each other to see who can generate the most revenue. This can create a toxic environment where team members prioritize their success over that of the team as a whole, resulting in low morale and diminished performance. It engages in cut-throat competition rather than collaboration, leading to missed opportunities and reduced revenue.
- Sales Teams with a Micromanaging Leader: Micromanaging leaders can create a culture of distrust and resentment, as team members feel that their contributions are not valued or trusted. This can lead to a lack of motivation and a decrease in overall performance while building a sales pipeline.
- Teams with a Blame Culture: Teams that prioritize blame over accountability may struggle to function effectively, as team members may be hesitant to take risks or admit mistakes. This can create a culture of fear and blame-shifting, which can be difficult to overcome.
Addressing dysfunctional team dynamics requires a concerted effort from leaders and team members. By recognizing toxic behaviors and implementing strategies to address them, teams can overcome dysfunctional patterns and work towards a more productive and positive environment.
Ultimately, it requires a commitment to open and honest communication, collaboration, and accountability. With the right strategies and team coaching, a willingness to address the issue head-on, teams can work towards a more positive and productive environment that fosters success for all members.