Friday, March 18, 2011

Looking for Fault Lines in Your Team

In recent years, a great deal of research has taken place with regard to one potential pattern of dysfunction that can occur in highly diverse teams. Researchers have discovered that individuals within a demographically diverse team often gravitate toward others with similar demographic characteristics. Thus, subgroups naturally emerge within teams. Actually, since individuals are actually bundles of demographic characteristics, we may "join" multiple clusters within a team. Gradually, we begin to see "in-group" vs. "out-group" dynamics unfold in some of these situations. "Fault lines" constitute the divisions or cracks that emerge within teams on these occasions. As a result of these fault lines, interpersonal conflict may occur, and information sharing may bog down. As a leader, you must learn to diagnose a team situation, looking for potential fault lines. If you can assess the probability that they may occur, then you can address the situation proactively before major stress and conflict take place.

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