Have you ever wondered why some teams seem to go straight to the top, while others just struggle or sink to the bottom?
It all has to do with team dynamics. Team dynamics are the behavioral relationships between members of any given team. How a team interacts, communicates, and works together has a dramatic impact on how successful a team is in meeting its goals.
Of course, dealing with human behavior is always tricky; there is no way to control how people respond to one another. But, if you know what to watch out for, you can do your best to position your team to be successful. And that might look different depending on the nature of your company and your work. Below are characteristics of team dynamics that make for a winning team:
- Shared Purpose: The difference between a team and a group is that a team has a shared goal. When a group of people work together, it is crucial that everyone is clear on what that goal is. If your team has trouble making decisions and seems to battle itself at every critical point, it’s time to do some digging to find out whether or not everyone is on the same page.
- Trust and Openness: Team members need to feel safe to share information and ideas without fear of punishment or retaliation. Trust opens the door to dialogue that can lead to better ideas and more creativity. Remember, the team leader sets the tone for the team. If you treat information as power, your team members are likely to do the same when they have information that can help the team.
- Diversity is Valued: Successful teams leverage the different thoughts and ideas held by each member to come up with more innovative and creative solutions. If you find that your team comes up with ideas unanimously quickly and often, your team might be experiencing groupthink, which is death to creativity. Be sure to encourage diversity within your team so it can settle on the best idea, not the easiest one.
- Willingness to Correct Mistakes: Have you ever met people so stubborn they won’t accept when they make a mistake, or when they’re simply wrong? Everyone has. And it makes for awful team dynamics, especially when success is dependant on results. Never be married to an idea or course of action. Track your work and be willing to change course if results are not where they should be.
- Interdependence: Think about how much more productive your team would be if each member had the sense of ownership for the work of others as they did for their own work. Members of such a team could lean on each other for ideas and assistance-- after all. two heads are better than one. When a team is focused on fulfilling its purpose, members can work together to make it happen without keeping tabs on how much they give or take.
- Consensus Decision Making: Nothing encourages collaboration, accountability, and employee participation like inclusion in the decision making process. Not only are you sending the message to your team members that their ideas and thoughts matter, you are making sure everyone has a stake in the team. Of course, there will be times when each member will have to compromise and come up with the best blend of each idea. Once a decision is made, it is important to support that decision, even if it wasn’t what you suggested. If you find an employee has trouble with this, be sure to correct this to avoid future conflicts.
- Participative Leadership: There is nothing worse than a micro-manager. Not only do they stifle creativity, but they often undermine an employee’s sense of ownership, confidence and sense of trust by encouraging a climate of fear. Participative leaders step back and give members the space to work autonomously. Instead of controlling their group, they provide resources, guidance, and information.
While these team dynamics might look different in each team depending on the industry, this general set of characteristics are helpful for understanding the DNA of a successful team. Want to learn more about building successful teams?