Rapidly opinion changing behaviour are the team members who frequently change their opinions and introduce both challenges and opportunities to team dynamics. In the realm of teamwork, cohesion and stability play pivotal roles in achieving shared goals and objectives. However, when a team member consistently exhibits rapidly changing opinions, the delicate equilibrium within the team can be disrupted. This phenomenon can have far-reaching consequences that influence decision-making, communication, trust and overall team morale.
Maneesha Jha Thakur, former group HR, Emami, shares that the impact of a team member’s rapidly- changing opinions extends beyond trustworthiness. It affects reliability, consensus-building and perceptions.
“Reliability suffers because the inconsistency of rapidly opinion changing behaviour undermines their trustworthiness and past accomplishments. Abrupt opinion shifts disrupt the delicate process of consensus building, and hinder progress. Their behaviour also affects how others see them”
Maneesha Jha Thakur, former group HR, Emami
“Reliability suffers because the inconsistency of rapidly opinion changing behaviour undermines their trustworthiness and past accomplishments. Abrupt opinion shifts disrupt the delicate process of consensus building, and hinder progress. Their behaviour also affects how others see them. Rapid changes suggest a lack of personal conviction, raising doubts about authenticity. It can imply tailoring opinions to please certain individuals, weakening their credibility,” explains Thakur.
Indecisiveness and confusion
Effective decision-making within a team relies on input from all members. When one team member frequently changes their opinions, it can lead to confusion and hinder the decision-making process. The team may struggle to reach a consensus as opinions oscillate, making it difficult to commit to a particular course of action. This lack of decisiveness can lead to project delays and missed opportunities.
Open and transparent communication is the lifeblood of successful teamwork. Rapid shifts in opinion by one team member can cause misinterpretations and breakdowns in communication. Team members may hesitate to share their thoughts, fearing that they could be invalidated or contradicted moments later. This breakdown erodes trust and stifles creativity as individuals become hesitant to express their genuine perspectives.
Trust is the foundation on which a team operates. The constantly-changing opinions of a team member can erode trust, as others may question the authenticity of their contributions. Teammates may wonder whether this behaviour is driven by genuine thought evolution or ulterior motives. This erosion of trust can lead to interpersonal conflicts and strained working relationships.
Teams thrive on a sense of direction and shared purpose. However, when a team member’s opinions fluctuate rapidly, the team’s progress becomes inconsistent. Projects may start and stall as opinions shift, leading to disorder and uncertainty about the overall goals and objectives. This can demotivate team members who find it challenging to maintain enthusiasm amid unsure circumstances.
High team morale contributes to increased productivity and job satisfaction. When one team member exhibits frequent changes of opinion, morale can suffer. Other team members may feel frustrated, as the lack of stability in opinions can make them question the validity of their contributions. A negative atmosphere can further exacerbate the situation, making it difficult to maintain a positive working environment.
“The variety of perspectives brought about by this behaviour can be valuable. Each change in opinion offers a new and unique viewpoint that may not have been considered otherwise. This diversity can enrich discussions and ultimately lead to more comprehensive decision-making”
Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Resources
Praveen Purohit, deputy CHRO, Vedanta Resources, believes that the impact of shapeshifting spans several dimensions. For instance, the constant shifts in opinion may leave team members confused or distracted, potentially leading to a loss of morale. Decisions can become more challenging to make as the input from this member continually evolves.
However, Purohit draws attention to the positive aspects as well. “The variety of perspectives brought about by this behaviour can be valuable. Each change in opinion offers a new and unique viewpoint that may not have been considered otherwise. This diversity can enrich discussions and ultimately lead to more comprehensive decision-making.”
Strategies for managing rapid opinion changes
Communicate transparently: Encourage the team members to openly communicate their thought process and reasons for opinion changes. Open dialogue can foster understanding and minimise misunderstandings.
According to Thakur, transparent communication is key. Contextualising shifts and seeking mentorship for consistent decision-making can rebuild trust and foster an effective team environment.
Clarify roles: Define roles and responsibilities clearly within the team. This can help members with rapidly-changing opinions, understand their specific contributions and areas of expertise.
Offer feedback: Cultivate a culture of constructive feedback. Encourage the team members to reflect on the impact of their opinion changes and how they affect team dynamics.
Build consensus: Focus on building consensus through discussions that allow every team member to contribute. This can help stabilise opinions and promote a sense of ownership over decisions.
Individual development: Offer support for the team member to develop consistency in their thought processes. This may involve mentorship, training, or self-assessment.
Decision documentation: Keep a record of decisions and the reasoning behind them. This can serve as a reference point and discourage frequent opinion changes.
According to Mangesh Bhide, senior vice president and HR head, Reliance Jio Infocomm, addressing this situation requires a thoughtful approach and should take into account factors such as the role an individual plays and the context of the changes.
Bhide shares that when opinion changes are rooted in customer behaviour, it’s essential to assign merit to the individual. “Customising responses based on diverse customer needs can lead to differing opinions. Roles also matter — static roles have less room for change, while dynamic roles may require adapting opinions to varied circumstances.”
For instance, Bhide points out that an air-traffic controller must follow a set pattern for safety, while a road-traffic controller adapts to situations. The context and role determine the appropriateness of opinion changes. If the aim is a better customer experience, no judgement should be made.
“Customising responses based on diverse customer needs can lead to differing opinions. Roles also matter — static roles have less room for change, while dynamic roles may require adapting opinions to varied circumstances”
Mangesh Bhide, senior vice president and HR head, Reliance Jio Infocomm
“If the changing opinions are well structured and logically presented, they can be seen as a positive contribution to brainstorming and problem-solving sessions. As long as these changes are rooted in reason and supported by logic, they can provide valuable insights for the team to consider,” opines Purohit.
He emphasises, “Leadership plays a crucial role in managing this situation. A good leader can moderate the team’s discussions, balancing diverse opinions and guiding the team towards a well-informed decision. While the continuous shifts may sometimes be a bit irksome, they can be manageable if they serve a valid purpose and contribute to the team’s overall objectives.”
The rapidly-changing opinions of a single team member can create a ripple effect that affects the entire team’s dynamics. From decision-making challenges to communication breakdowns and trust erosion, the consequences are far-reaching. However, with thoughtful strategies and a commitment to open communication, a team can navigate these challenges, foster stability and harness the diverse perspectives of all its members to achieve its goals.