How do I solve all these types of team issues??

Six Hats - a useful team tool

Reader question – how do I solve all these team issues?

I woke up this morning to an interesting reader question.

Hi Tammy,


I read your article on Six Hats Technique and it is very interesting technique. I however am finding it difficult to apply it.

Please clarify which hats should be used as a team manager when dealing with the following challengs:

  1. How to manage interpersonal conflict in the team:
    Which hat?
    Why this hat?
  2. How to deal with bullying and gossiping in the team
    Which hat?
    Why this hat?
  3. How to deal with employees who have low motivation and job satisfaction
    Which hat?
    Why this hat?
  4. How to manage performance issues
    Which hat?
    Why this hat?
  5. Poor job fit
    Which hat?
    Why this hat

My response

Thanks for reading and for your follow up question.

The Six Hats tool is just one example of a tool that you can use to help your team understand different styles and approaches that different team members have. You allocate a hat to each team member and they have to use that lens (which is different to their usual one) through the meeting/problem solving/decision making etc.

It’s about raising awareness – which in turn allows people to see their team mate’s attributes that are different to their own as something that is potentially positive, rather than just irritating. That can, in and of itself reduce conflict that teams experience.

It’s not a panacea for all team related issues but a starting point to build productive relationships.

Five dysfunctions of a team

At the root of most of your questions is having a team that trusts each other and who are clear on the accountability required of the members of the team, and who are prepared to call out members who aren’t performing or who aren’t behaving productively.

Patrick Lencioni does great work on teams – and has some good free resources that may help you with some of the other issues you raise.

Radical candour

You may find Kim Scott’s “radical candor” a useful model as well.

Solving team problems

The other issue to contemplate is that it’s not always about the team, but the broader organisational system that the team works in. More on that in coming weeks.

The Takeaway

Team issues can be about the team. Perhaps there is a lack of trust, or the team doesn’t know what is expected of it. Perhaps they don’t have the right people in the team or in the right roles. But often it’s about the team struggling more broadly in a system that doesn’t appropriately support that team. It’s why team building work often doesn’t have the desired result. It’s really important to work out what the “real” issue is first.



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