Have you ever wondered why some teams get everyone rowing in the same direction, 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. As the team leader, you can affect the dynamics through team building strategies. As you create new teams or evaluate existing teams, look for these characteristics. As you identify gaps, we make suggestions on ej4 team building training videos that can help.
7 Characteristics of Team Dynamics that Make for a Winning Team
1. 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.
A popular method for goal-setting uses the acronym SMART. Effective goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Our course on setting “SMART goals” will help you to focus efforts, keep you accountable, and help you attain your goals.
2. Trust and Openness
Team members need to feel safe to share information and ideas without fear of punishment or embarrassment. Trust opens the door to dialogue that can lead to better ideas and more creativity. Team members must also be able to trust that everyone will meet their deadlines, carry their weight, and do their part of the work. As the leader, it is your responsibility to build accountability.
If you are in a leadership position, ask yourself “Do my team members trust me?” Our course on “Building Accountability: Trust and Performance at Work” addresses the trust in leaders. It also explains how to build accountability among the team through honesty, transparency, and openness.
3. Willingness to Correct Mistakes
An important aspect of accountability is the willingness to acknowledge and correct mistakes. When success is dependent on results, a productive team must establish the appropriate processes for measurement and evaluation. Track your work and be willing to change course if results are not where they should be.
Our course on "Surviving Poor Decisions” will walk you through the three steps of acknowledging the issue, identifying corrective action and moving forward. A successful team will look for opportunities to learn from the situation. They will not let past mistakes limit their future success.
4. Diversity and Inclusion
Winning 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.
In a cross-functional team, you may achieve diversity simply by mixing members from different departments with different skills and perspectives. If you are building a departmental team, you can achieve diversity in your hiring practices by expanding your recruiting sources to attract diversity in age, sex, ethnicity, and sexual identity. We offer a series on "Unconscious Bias." It will help you better understand how you formed prejudices and how you can become more aware so you can change moving forward.
5. Interdependence and a Sense of Belonging
Each team member should know why they are part of the team. They should understand their value and responsibility. If your onboarding is rushed or disorganized, you may miss this. If a new team is created for a special project, the team leader must establish this up front.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.
In our series on "Team Building,” we offer a course that explains the Tuckman Model. As the team leader, it is your responsibility to support the members in their interdependence, and reinforce their sense of belonging through all of the stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing.
6. Consensus Decision Making
Harnessing the power of the team can result in innovative and out-of-the-box solutions. Having more people involved in decision making can channel the creative power of multiple minds. The key is consensus decision making which requires the right processes to be in place. A few strong personalities might dominate the discussion. You want to avoid decisions by peer pressure. Of course, there will be times when members will have to compromise and come up with the best blend of an idea, as long as they don’t feel coerced.
Our course on “Making Group Decisions” explains how to take an organized approach to group decision making to gain consensus. Decision-making meetings must begin with a clearly defined desired outcome to focus the group. Designate a facilitator and timekeeper. The process continues with information gathering, analysis, brainstorming, and evaluation.
7. 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.
How do leaders get their followers? You have to understand the difference between leadership and power. We explore this in detail in our course “Becoming a Great Leader: Leadership and Power.” The challenge is for leaders to understand what power works best in each situation.
Our unique style of microlearning videos will complement your instructor-led leadership and team-building training programs. This is a topic where blended learning really makes sense. Each team member comes with their own strengths and weaknesses. Our video courses can help level-set some of those gaps prior to your instructor-led classes. They can also be used for reinforcement over time as your team members rewatch the videos on-demand. A winning team makes learning a habit.
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If you are buying an LMS, this blog post will be a valuable resource: “Buying an LMS: The Complete Feature Checklist to Make the Right Choice.”
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 10, 2015 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.