When Teams Thrive

By: Gale Mote 

The Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development is proud to partner with Human Synergistics International to provide assessments and data into your leadership style, organizational culture, agility, and readiness for change. The following article by Gale Mote was published to the Human Synergistics Constructive Culture blog on April 7, 2021. 

The Digital Subarctic Survival Situation is a team-building experience that helps participants understand and practice behaviors and skills that contribute to effective decision making, which are applicable to most organizational team situations. The exercise requires team members to engage in two critical cohesive behaviors – allowing healthy, productive conflict and creating buy-in for decisions. 

From Conflict to Common Ground 

A diverse team is not necessarily an inclusive team. Team members need to feel connected to one another and trust that everyone’s intentions are good. Optimally, members assume positive intent and believe they can be completely transparent with one another. Additionally, all need to believe that their individual contributions are desired and valued. 

Subarctic helps to level the playing field as one’s status or tenure is not relevant to solving the problem. It allows team members to be creative and share perspectives based on their individual experiences, knowledge, and backgrounds. 

Conflict occurs when team members realize that not everyone sees the situation the same way. Success in surviving the situation is enhanced when team members embrace their differences and seek common ground. They can disagree without being disagreeable. 

100% participation is essential, just as in their day-to-day work lives, to increase the quality and acceptance of a solution. Everyone offers their perspectives with no fear of rejection or repercussion. All understand they are smarter together than alone. 

Inclusion to Buy-in 

Rational thinking and interpersonal skills help the team to engage in healthy, productive conflict. Establishing a shared goal, keeping facts and assumptions separate, and bringing forth multiple alternatives help align the team and keep members focused, working efficiently and effectively together.  

Humble listening, asking probing questions, building on one another’s ideas, showing appreciation for all input, inviting others to disagree with an idea or observation, being present, and ensuring that all members have the opportunity to contribute increase buy-in for the decision. Weigh-in = Buy-in. All need to feel heard, considered, and understood. 

Consensus does not require 100% agreement. It does, however, demand 100% support.

Gale Mote

Consensus does not require 100% agreement. It does, however, demand 100% support. This means being individually and mutually accountable for the decision – no blame, no excuses. Testing for commitment is essential during the decision-making process to assess how team members think and feel. Using a technique such as five-finger consensus allows team members to show their level of support for a proposal or decision within the group. 

For example, five fingers means that one strongly agrees with the proposal in front of the group, three fingers say “I can live with it” while two fingers indicate disagreement. When all team members agree or can live with (support) a decision, the team can move on.  It is also possible that some team members may need to “disagree and commit.” 

For Exceptional Success in Virtual Teams 

As teams navigate in a virtual world, it is imperative they learn how to build trust, engage in healthy conflict, and create alignments for decisions. Lack of engagement, the “meeting after the meeting,” and second-guessing decisions lead to poor performance. 

Simulations such as Subarctic are an exceptional way for members to experience what is necessary to be an effective team. The simulation provides timely feedback on how well all members worked together to identify a problem, agree on a goal, analyze the situation, create and evaluate alternatives, and decide on a solution that all can support. When combined with Human Synergistics’ Group Style Inventory™ (GSI), the team can assess, more clearly, the behaviors that helped/hindered their group decision-making process. 

As Roger Von Oech said, “There are precious few Einstein’s among us. Most brilliance arises from ordinary people working together in extraordinary ways.” 

If you would like to see for yourself how Human Synergistics’ Group Style Inventory™ (GSI) assessment identifies behaviors that enable or undermine effective teamwork, join us for Managing Teams Effectively. To further help you understand the current state of your culture, we invite you to set up a Discovery Session with our Solutions Advisor Team. 

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About the Author 

Gale Mote is a team coach, trainer, and consultant, and has been in the training and development field for more than 30 years. 

She creates a safe environment for team members to explore who they are individually and as a team. Providing practical techniques and skills training for real growth, Gale helps teams become more cohesive and accomplish amazing results. Her sessions are creative, energizing and get results! When people engage with Gale, they usually leave with one key question, “Where does she get that energy?” 

Gale is a Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD®) by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), and prior to starting her own company in 1990, she worked for various manufacturing enterprises including Del Monte, Square D Corporation, Quaker Oats, and Norand Corporation.