The Eggshells Complex occurs when the team overuse the Coach team role.
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.
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.
The complex is given the name "Eggshells" because of the English idiom "walking on eggshells", which means you are treading very carefully in fear of offending someone.
Complexes can be very difficult to deal with. See our general page on Complexes for more information.
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
The Eggshells Complex results from rigidity in the team's use of extraverted Feeling.
See all sixteen team complexes.