Social exclusion for bad apples

So far, we have learned

  1. The bad apple effect – a single, toxic team member can create group-wide dysfunction
  2. Emotions are contagious – when someone else experiences an emotion, mirror neurons light up the exact same areas of our brain as if we were experiencing that emotion ourselves.
  3. Social contracts are a nice way of establishing a set of desired group norms, and can provide a “container” for the team to manage its own conflict, including defective behaviour.

In this post, the forth in the Agile Team series, we look into techniques for working with people who continually act out of sync with the team culture and norms. In particular, we investigate how social exclusion can be used as a highly effective deterrent of bad behaviour.

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How to make a social contract and build better teams

In post one and two in this series, we discovered how emotions and behaviours are contagious and can have a dramatic impact on a team. Let’s now explore some approaches that help encourage positive behaviour and help us manage when things get difficult.

This post, number three in The Agile Team Series, covers Social Contracts, why they are important, how to create one and how to use it. [Read more…]

Emotions are contagious: how yours impact others around you

You know how when you see someone smile, you smile too? Or when you see someone crying, you feel their sadness. Well that’s because of an incredible phenomenon called mirror neurons. Understanding mirror neurons is a critical aspect of  team development as when someone else experiences an emotion, mirror neurons light up the exact same areas of our brain, as if we were experiencing that emotion ourselves. Literally, emotions are infectious.  This is post 2 in The Agile Teams Series[Read more…]

Does your team have a bad apple?

A fascinating recent study has shown that a single, toxic team member can create group team wide dysfunction and breakdown.

We have all worked in teams where there is one “difficult” person.  They seem to take up a disproportionate amount of the teams time and energy. Conversations with them feel “heavy” and they tend to sap your energy. There are a number of manifestations of this phenomenon, from the passive-aggressive group eroder, the blunt/rude dominant, the controller, the slacker, the anti-establishment guy, the divide-and-conquer schemer, the arrogant fat head… I am sure some of these will be familiar.

So, if we sometimes have to work with this sort of person, what impact does this have on us as a team?

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Behaviour dynamics in agile teams: The Agile Teams Series

One of my passions is teams – working with them, helping them improve and figuring out what makes a good one.  In his book Software for your Head, Jim and Michele McCarthy made a simple statement that resonates with me: Team= Product. That is, a good team builds a good product, a bad team builds a bad product.

In my quest to understand more about teams I have been reading as much as I can. Via this new series on my blog, I am aiming to try to summarise my findings and provide references to material I have found really useful in the hope I can provide some insights to others that are useful in your daily work.

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