Team Dynamics deals with all those underlying forces between the different people on a team that influences how a team operates. It can really make a difference on how a team reacts, behaves or performs. Ideally you want a highly cohesive and supportive team, working together to get the job done. However, many times due to team dynamics, you might have differences that impact performance and negative team dynamics. It’s these negative dynamics that you want to focus on resolving. These can really bite you.
I’ve seen team dynamics affected by many factors including:
• Existing relationships either impact positively or negatively the cohesiveness of the team due to perceived favoritism or real trust.
• Team members who have different personalities resulting in conflicts across the team, misunderstandings, and lack of trust.
• Physical forces can shift team dynamics such as resources located in different locations, being from different cultures, or simply on different schedules.
• Absences of leadership or shifts of leadership can change team dynamics.
So what can you do to help build a high performing team and improve the team dynamics such that you have a cohesive and supportive group? Here’s a few ways that I have found to be effective in helping build strong teams.
• Understand Personality/Strengths. Recognizing differences in personality types as well as strengths of each team member can help you support and integrate team members more effectively. Tests such as Myers Briggs and Strengths Finder can support you with this. Have each team member take these tests and share the results as a team exercise so that everyone benefits from knowing more about each team member.
• Build Trust. Work to build trust across the team. Foster an environment of trust and openness. Have team functions that are designed for individuals to get to know each other. If your team is virtual, create a team room (sharepoint, wiki, etc.) that supports profile information about each team member.
• Have a common vision. When everyone is supporting a common vision and they know how they play a part in that vision, it creates a cohesive alignment that builds enthusiasm and support of the team. Showing the importance of the team as a whole (rather than individuals) helps to build this vision.
• Environmental layout. Look for ways to bring team members together. If possible have them work in a common area/location. When not possible, have a common on-line environment where they can go and share information. If you have teams in multiple locations, try to do team meetings across the locations (not in one standard place) and encourage team building events.
• Address conflict/issues quickly. When you feel the team dynamics is moving in a negative direction, address the issues quickly. Don’t just hope that they will correct themselves. As with any conflict, look for a win-win situation, one that is accomplished in a positive and supportive way. Support the team environment, gaining trust of the individuals, and showing a one-team concept (remember there really is no “I” in “TEAM”.) For instance, with the two individuals that are friends but causing some concerns of favoritism, be open and let the team know the importance of the team and not one individual. Also, talk to the two individuals, let them know others feel they are being excluded, and ask them to help build trust in the team and get to know others on the team.
How teams function (positively versus negatively) can have a real impact on the results of a project. So, remember to study your team’s dynamics, identify any issues head on, and work to create a cohesive, open, highly communicating, and supportive team to help obtain the results you want to achieve. Remember to value each member of the team creating an inclusive versus exclusive environment. Here’s to your success as a leader. Inspire your team to greatness.