Can Dave Thrive in Your Team?

Now more than ever there is constant pressure for organizations and the teams that make them up to be more productive. 

Talent Managers and other HR Professionals invest a great deal of time in search of some new tweak that could improve the performance of their teams. 

Most of us seemingly feel that we have little control over the dynamics of the group in which we are currently placed and we bide our time until we can move on.

For us, a critical factor in determining the effectiveness of a team is whether the team provides an environment in which each member can thrive. 

  • Is the environment conducive to my growth?
  • Do the team dynamics create roadblocks that frustrate my efforts?
  • Is the team atmosphere a distraction for me?


Dave seems to be constantly on a mission. He appears to be always in a hurry. He wants everything yesterday and patience is not his strong suit.

Dave is serious about achieving stretch targets and engages in not so subtle prods when a team member fails to live up to Dave’s high expectations. 

 Could Dave thrive in your team?

Would he be welcomed as a kindred spirit in search of excellence?

Or, would Dave be a thorn in the flesh of a team that enjoyed their more relaxed, relationship-rich ways of operating?


Based on our work with teams over the years, misuse or misunderstanding of the mantra “There is no I in TEAM” has led us down the wrong path.

When we shift attention away from each individual team member, we run the risk of losing the game. 

The old “one bad apple spoils the whole lot” should have given us adequate warning. 

Effective team building must have as a key outcome the engagement and empowerment of every single member. 

Outings away from the office are great and so are exercises that foster interaction among team members. However, in the final analysis they are not sufficient to drive the team to higher levels of performance. 

That is best achieved by taking the time to work with members as individuals. 


Drilling down to the individual level and carrying out the required diagnostics requires commitment and resources. 

Budget-strapped, under-staffed HR and Talent Management units are not ideally positioned to opt for a member-centric approach to team building. However, the resistant employee engagement challenge will not be resolved until the individual becomes the centre of team building interventions.


In order to win this engagement and performance enhancement battle, we need to adopt different mindsets as employees and employers. 

New information has to be brought into the mix which will entail asking different kinds of questions. 

  • What are Dave’s drivers?
  • What gets him up in the morning and fuels his day?

Those questions are central to the ability to provide Dave with an environment that engages him.

The challenge is that given traditional mindsets, that information is not available and may even be considered to be off limits. 

The future-ready HR practitioner who seeks to engage Dave in discourse that could yield that information might be rebuffed. 

The traditional Dave has no intention of sharing his motivation with the organization. That level of trust and appreciation of what is actually in his best interest has not been attained in traditional work environments. 


Organizations need to blink first. They have to demonstrate in concrete terms that they are indeed prepared to work at creating environments in which each member can thrive.

One way to go about doing that is to use feedback from Employee Satisfaction surveys to make adjustments. The changes should be trumpeted as signals that we are listening and we are ready to act.

Team leaders could then be mandated as part of the same initiative to have one-on-one discussions with each team member in the context of the survey feedback. 

The extent to which team leaders have created a safe, confidential environment will determine the quality of the information that is gleaned from those discussions. 

No matter how bad the situation is, it is best to start anyway and gradually move to a place where valuable exchanges are possible. 

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