Team Dysfunctions Blog — Team Dysfunctions

We Can Help You Create a Great Team!

Posted in: Engage, Retain, Select, Team Dysfunctions  on January 16, 2014

There is so much information out there on building great teams, best hiring practices, and advice on working together effectively. This is what synergize! does best! Allow us to sort through and decipher it all then keep you well informed so you can spend your time on what you do best.

synergize! works with organizations to provide customized programs to hire and develop productive teams. From analyzing a job to hiring at any level to providing team building and leadership coaching synergize! can help you create a great place to work, where your employees are energized and engaged and where everyone loves going to work.

We also use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help our clients learn more about how to create exceptional teams where each employee loves going to work. You will find:

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So please visit us on social media and invite your friends and colleagues to do the same! You are sure to find useful information that will make a difference for you – and for your team.




Got stress? Probably. Who Doesn’t at This Time of Year!

Posted in: Mentoring, Overcome, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on December 11, 2013

Just about everybody is stressed at this time of year. Maybe the goal isn’t to eliminate the stress, rather to make sure it doesn’t get the best of us.

To that end we are pleased to give you something to think about when it comes to stress. And we’d also love to have you join us at our next Lunch & Learn – Dealing with Holiday (and Everyday!) Stress on Tuesday, December 17, which was rescheduled due to the weather.

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it.” ~Eckhart Tolle, author, “The New Earth”

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James

“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”
― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

“My body needs laughter as much as it needs tears. Both are cleansers of stress.”
― Mahogany SilverRain, Ebony Encounters: A Trilogy of Erotic Tales

“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved worrying will do you no good.” ― Śāntideva

“If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” ~William James

“Is everything as urgent as your stress would imply?” ~Carrie Latet

Do you have any questions for me?

Posted in: Select, Team Dysfunctions, Uncategorized, Workforce Issues  on September 1, 2013

The first question (and, come to think of it, the only question) my daughter was asked in a job interview was, “Do you have any questions for me?”  It was a position very similar to a temporary front desk position she had just finished for this company.  Her boss in that position told the interviewer he needed to hire my daughter because she was an “asset to the organization.”

Of course, she had questions; and she asked them. Then the interviewer took a couple of minutes to describe the job.  (The operative words there being “couple of minutes.”)

After that he suggested they go to the front desk so my daughter could check some people in – with no training on that specific equipment used.  After 15 minutes and only one person entering and successfully checked in the interviewer said, “Well I guess nobody else is coming. Do you have any other questions for me?” And this time she did not.

That was the end of the interview.

She didn’t get the job. She didn’t have enough experience.


Most of us know the traditional interview is not very effective for identifying the best candidates – it’s about as good as flipping a coin.  But if avoiding team dysfunctions starts with the right hire you would think hiring managers would put a little more effort into the interview.

Here are some keys to getting more out of the interview:

  1. Know your personal biases.  We all have them so there’s no sense pretending that we don’t.  The best we can do is have a clear picture of what they are so that we can see how they might be impacting the interview.  One time I interveiwed a woman because she grew up in a little town (Prescott, Ontario) where my mother and I used to take the ferry to have lunch and get ice cream.  Not exactly job-related.
  2. Prepare ahead of time.  With over 2 billion Google responses to “how to interview” chances are pretty good that the people you interview spend a lot more time preparing than you do.  Before the interview know what you are looking for.  Be sure you fully understand the job role, the responsibilities, and what a successful candidate looks like. 
  3. Ask behavioral interview questions that relate to this position in your company.  A traditional question might be, “Tell me about yourself.”  “What are your strengths?”  “How would you …”  A behavioral interview question might be, “Tell me about a situation when one of your personal strengths helped you overcome a problem.”  Or “Give me an example of how you have handled constructive feedback in the past.”  If past behavior predicts future behavior (which it does) then asking how they’ve handled the type of situations they are likely to experience in this role will give you an idea of what they’ll probably do in the future.
  4. The interviewee talks more than you do.  Of course you’ll ask if they have any questions.  But to start out with that question?  It seems pretty lame to me.  Tell them a little about the position and the company then get into the meat of the interview, which is asking about what you need to know (see step 1).
  5. Your process is consistent for every applicant.  This means the foundation of your questions is the same.  Obviously depending on their responses you’ll explore some areas more deeply.  But keep the structure and process the same.

Undoubtedly there are tons of other good things to do in an interview, but this is a good start.

At the very least it is a whole lot better than simply asking, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Are you running on empty?

Posted in: Engage, Retain, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on November 9, 2012

It happened again.  Well, actually, it’s happened several times in the last few weeks … a competent, conscientious, this-would-be-an-ideal-employee kind of person talked with me about looking for another job while she is still employed.

Why?  “They haven’t given me the resources I need to do my job.  So I am not successful and then they criticize me for not making the numbers.  It’s all about the numbers.  I know the numbers are important, but how can I get there without support and the resources I need?”

She is running on empty.

Really – you’d think employers would have it figured out by now.  SO HERE IS A MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYERS:

  1. Tell your employees what you expect
  2. Give them the tools they need to do the job
  3. Provide them with feedback – encouraging and constructive as needed
  4. Say thank you once in a while
  5. If you need to be reminded why it’s important to pay attention to employee engagement, check out this recent post by the Harvard Business Review.

Practically speaking, that could be the end of this post.  But here’s a question for you: what responsibility do employees have?  Sure, employers could do a better job of engaging their workforce.  And their companies would do a lot better financially if they did.  But sometimes you just gotta ask for what you need.  SO HERE IS A MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYEES:

  1. Ask questions to clarify expectations – and start before Day One, when they offer you the job.  Before you take it, don’t you want to be sure you can meet those expectations – and want to meet them?
  2. Ask for what you need.  They may not realize they’re not giving you the tools to do the job.  (I actually had a client that hired mechanics and didn’t bother to tell them they had to provide their own tools.  They’d show up the first day sans tools and miss the first day of work because they weren’t prepared.  The amazing thing was, the company didn’t realize how easy a fix this was!)
  3. Remember – you are not a victim.  You are responsible for your career, your job satisfaction, your life.  You are the only one who can change what you don’t like.  Even if your boss is a jerk, everyday you get to choose who you are and what you will do to get your needs met.
  4. If you want to read more about this, check out this recent post by the Harvard Business Review.

By all means, look for that other job if they aren’t providing you what you need.  Just remember – you are in control.  If you’re running on empty, start looking for a gas station.

Death by Meeting

Posted in: Develop, Engage, Overcome, Team Dysfunctions, Workforce Issues  on July 13, 2012

Gosh – I wish I could take credit for that title … Death by Meeting.  Alas, it is the title of a book by Patrick Lencioni, owner of The Table Group and best-selling author / guru of several management books.

But, whether I came up with the catchy title or not, you gotta admit – we’ve all been in meetings like that.

And do we like being in meetings like that??  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  Do we tend to fall asleep in meetings like that??  ABSOLUTELY!!!

So what can we do to avoid them (besides hiding under our desks)?

  1. Understand the purpose of each meeting.  This doesn’t just mean “have an agenda” (but having an agenda is a terrific idea).  This means “know what you want to accomplish in this meeting.”  If it is a weekly staff meeting, what is the purpose of doing this every week?  What do you really need to accomplish every week?  What are the top two or three issues that must be covered? 
  2. Determine time parameters before the meeting.  (And stick to them!)  There is absolutely no reason why any meeting – other than strategy planning or team building – should take more than an hour-and-a-half.  And most of them should take much less.  Just think of how much you could get done if you didn’t waste two hours in a meeting where everybody is falling asleep?!
  3. Make sure everybody contributes.  If you have people sitting there and not saying a word, they are not being present with what’s going on.  Remember that you are paying them to be present all day and not just when they feel like it.  And how will they know what’s going on if they never say anything?  And how will you have any interesting discussions that will keep people awake if some people can get away with not contributing?  Well, you just can’t. 
  4. Clarify any decisions that were made before everybody leaves.  Then you know you’re all on the same page.
  5. Review any action items, including who is responsible.  Do this before the end of the meeting.  Then at the beginning of the next meeting, review the action items again for a status report (HINT: This is (1) one of the reasons to have the meeting, and (2) top of the agenda).  This holds people accountable, not to mention that it also ensures things get done.

Meetings really don’t have to be painful and boring.  But they do have to be purposeful and meaningful.  With a little bit of planning they can get there. 

So, what do you do if the person in charge of the meeting doesn’t know these little tips?  Well, you can forward this blog (or e-mail me and I’ll do it for you!). 

Or, as one of my clients did, read Death by Meeting and pass it around!

I would welcome other thoughts about how to avoid death by meeting …

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