To anyone observing it was a very heated argument. One member of the team was criticising another and not holding back. The other responded with a few well chosen remarks of their own. Voices were raised. It looked and sounded ugly. The boss did not intervene. So is this what is meant by a dysfunctional management team? Not according to the boss.
According to the boss this type of burst up between members indicated the strength of determination to get things right and improve performance. The boss claimed to have no problem with this behaviour.
Shocking as this sounds, the boss did not see their role as a referee and was content to let them fight it out.
How is this different from a dysfunctional team? In my experience dysfunctional teams don’t so much argue as snipe. They don’t disagree about a particular course of action or strategy they can’t agree on anything and respond by each doing their own thing regardless.
What an observer would have witness in this instance was not a personality conflict, this was not a case where two people just rub each other up the wrong way. Most significant was how it ended. In a dysfunctional team it never ends its just the end of that particular round. Where as this confrontation ended in both parties acknowledging the others feelings and then moving on to the next item on the agenda.
Never the less it takes courage, confidence and a knowledge of the individuals on behalf of the manager to let the confrontation play itself out and not to step in. Especially as one of the characteristics of a dysfunctional team is a manager who has loss control and the respect of their team.
Blair McPherson former Director , author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk