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The "Eggshells Syndrome"

The Eggshells syndrome occurs when the team overuses the Coach team role.

Healthy use

When used appropriately, the Coach team role is used to create harmony. Coaches focus on building rapport with people, creating a positive team atmosphere, looking after people's welfare, motivating people and/or providing a service to the satisfaction of others. Coaches value people's contributions, seek to develop the role that others play, and invest a lot of effort in building positive relationships. They try to overcome differences of opinion and find ways in which the team can agree.

Excessive use

If the Coach team role is used to excess, however, and Group-Think sets in, then harmony becomes more important than team performance. Healthy conflict is then repressed and team performance hampered because difficult issues are not being tackled and there is a loss of creative conflict. The team fails to identify and discuss differences of opinion, they compromise too much, they build team spirit at the expense of creative argument and they fail to make enough demands of each other and people outside the team.


A good facilitator or consultant can help the team in various ways, such as:

  • Making clear the distinction between disagreeing with someone's opinion and criticising the person

  • Creating an atmosphere that gives team members permission to disagree whilst knowing they will not damage interpersonal relationships

  • Reframing 'conflict' as a positive thing for the team and a healthy part of good relationships

Psychology Footnote

The Eggshells syndrome results from a team 'complex', that creates rigidity in their collective use of extraverted Feeling.

The Sixteen Teamwork Syndromes:

Team members daren't disagree with each other

The team works independently, not as a team

They are too wrapped up in their own cause

They try to do everything, not focusing on what's important

They start too many initiatives without following through

They are stuck in a rut, only doing what they've always done

They are on a different planet to everyone else

They can't see outside their own box

They go at everything without stopping to think

They spend too much time thinking - everything will be done tomorrow

They try to collect and keep too much information

They fail to recognise they haven't communicated with each other

The rules are too important and the team is inflexible

Chaos results from an absence of proper organisation

They spend all their time nitpicking each others' arguments

They are unaware of consequences because they don't think things through logically

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