Transforming a dysfunctional team to design a new future

When Terry started his new role as General Manager, he acted more like a boxing referee than a leader. He inherited a dysfunctional team who spent much of their time criticising each other and engaging in infighting. They often pulled him into arbitrating disputes when latent hostilities broke out into open warfare. They were a team in name only.

It was frustrating for Terry that the team resisted his ideas about aligning on a shared vision and strategy, preferring instead to pursue their individual agendas. Dealing with their antics wasn’t a good use of his time and distracted him from the strategic challenges that excited him when he signed up for the job. They were so dysfunctional, Terry know he needed to take swift action.

He was enthusiastic about the idea of a team-based coaching program to give them the opportunity to help design the future of the team and the organisation. He figured he had a better chance of getting them on board with a new direction if they were part of the design process.

Gather Insights:

I worked with Terry to gather insights from each team member about what was working or wasn’t working, and seek their input on how to improve the group’s performance.

Understand Current Views:

It was important to discover how people viewed the situation before initiating a new direction. Terry was acutely aware that change initiatives often fail because we don’t address the underlying issues that were there at the start. He did not want to make that critical mistake.

Create a New Purpose:

The team reviewed an aggregated summary of their views and the risks they faced if nothing changed. They had not previously confronted the potential reality if things continued as they were. The realisation that they were likely to be outsourced or replaced entirely galvanised them into action. They created and aligned on a new purpose for the group, positioning themselves as integral to their customer’s success.


There were still activities to start and stop to support their new purpose, but being aligned made all the difference in forging a real team. They owned the new future they had created for themselves. Terry now has an aligned team who can see the value of each other’s contributions. It has freed him up to focus on the strategic challenges they face, knowing his team is pulling in the same direction.

🙋 What is your experience of giving others a say in designing the future? 🙋‍♀️

Best regards, Brian