Experience indicates that teams, like individuals, can be more or less healthy and functional. Teams, like individuals, can be freeing, supportive, encouraging, and growthful places in which to work. On the other hand, teams can also show varying degrees of negativity, ego-driven behaviors, and serious but hidden pathologies that make working in such an atmosphere difficult and counter-productive. At their worst, teams can be so negative and pathologically destructive that they threaten the health and well-being of everyone in them. Having a way of objectively measuring these different states is extraordinarily useful and incalculably beneficial both for employees and for the organization as a whole.

The TOLATsm survey firmly establishes where a team is currently functioning—an essential starting point for meaningful change. With appropriate analysis by a trained Facilitator, it will make apparent why past solutions may have been marginally effective, have failed, or have even back-fired.

The Levels of Functioning for teams that we see in groups and organizations are a cluster of five particular levels of behaviors. The ability to perceive the particular Levels and their associated behaviors allows more precision in understanding team dynamics and what to do about them.

Making this kind of distinction between Levels of Functioning is absolutely necessary for any kind of worthwhile change to occur and be maintained. This is because solutions that may be excellent at one Level are likely to be ineffective and possibly harmful at another.

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In our experience, it is rare and extraordinary for a team or organization to be operating consistently in the healthy range, that is, at Level 3. Further, common sense leads us to believe that the majority of teams and organizations are predominantly functioning in the average range, that is, in Levels 4-6. Last, a few teams may be operating at the lowest level of functioning that is measured by the TOLAT, that is, Level 7, in which case, they are in deep crisis. This is likely to be a strong lead indicator that they are about to disintegrate and possibly take the company down with them.

While business consultants and HR professionals are familiar with team dynamics and deal regularly with them, the Nine Domains Approachsm, and the TOLATsm in particular, can provide much more specificity both in understanding a team and in dealing with its dynamics in a timely and effective way.