Peanut Butter Teams

Teams can behave like two different kinds of peanut butter – Smooth and Crunchy Nut. Seriously!

When teams are in a Smooth Peanut Butter phase, differences are smoothed over and conflict is avoided. Team members are more concerned about being okay with each other than about the growth and performance of the team. Team members don’t question, and hold back expressing their emotions, desires and needs. Individuals hold back disagreements and avoid difficult conversations. 

People avoid and rescue awkwardness. The team clings to the safe and known and the result is passivity, low energy and withdrawal. There is a lack of assertion, risk-taking and leadership. No one wants to rock the boat. Those who dare to raise questions are scapegoated as ‘difficult’. No one wants to ‘go there’ and it’s more comfortable to remain at a lower level of performance. 

To get out of the Smooth Peanut Butter phase, members of the team need to have the courage to take a risk and express how they feel, what they need, and what they want.

Then a team can move into the Crunchy Peanut Butter phase – where differences are visible, voiced and valued. Concerns and anxieties are shared respectfully, and contrarian views are welcomed. Instead of smoothing over, the team starts to flow together in the same direction with a clear group identity and purpose, which also allows for individual identity.

So, notice when your team is in the Smooth Peanut Butter phase and support your colleagues to move to be Crunchy Nuts!