How I Use
Build Stronger Teams
Are you a bad team player
if you don’t agree?
By Audrey Epstein
Because I facilitate team
sessions for a living, I’ve seen
lots of team interactions. All kinds
of drama, some shouting and
tears, but also lots of laughter,
joy, and bold action. Much about
teamwork has been researched,
dissected, and discussed. Yet
lately, I’ve been thinking a lot
about an unexplored topic: how to
get team members to disagree.
What do you do as a team
member, if, after all the discussion
and debate, the hours the team
talked about a new direction, plan,
or policy, you still disagree? What
I see happen on most teams is
acquiescence - giving in or just
going along. It’s hard to know
the line between sticking to your
views and aligning with the team.
Are you a bad team player if you
For a long time, I have facilitated
team problem-solving sessions in
the same way:
1. First explore the issue from
all sides, uncovering a
comprehensive view of the
current state and root causes.
2. Next, brainstorm options and
agree on a broad path forward.
3. And finally develop recommendations
During the first two steps, team
members share their views,
voice concerns, ask probing
questions, debate, and discuss.
I ensure people know it’s a safe
environment to dissent and
challenge. And then, at a certain
point, when we have brainstormed
and kicked around options, we
agree on a future state. Then
we move into action planning.
Once plans and next steps are
identified, well, I deem the team
session a home run. We have
moved from chaos into order,
from theory into action. It always
feels like a triumph of team
process and alignment.
Until it suddenly didn’t. At a
recent team session, I didn’t
like the feeling in the room at
the end of step 3. Everyone had
dutifully done their breakout work,
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