Let’s Talk Teams
Why? For one, because in a modern workplace employees don’t often work in complete isolation from one another; more and more companies rely on teams to carry out projects and implement new initiatives. It goes without saying that a collective effort generally makes a greater impact and produces better results than any individual endeavor. The larger the scale of a project, the more it is necessary to employ diverse talents and skills in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Given the usual time constraints, a single employee, no matter how gifted or experienced he/she may be, can only accomplish so much, whereas a team can achieve the objective using less time and fewer resources.
Teamwork Bolsters Productivity
At a very basic level, it really is just common sense: The sum of separate productivities will be greater than any individual effort. However, that’s not all that there is to teamwork and productivity; in teams, individual efficiencies are not simply aggregated, they become amplified.
A sense of belonging to a team has a curious psychological effect on a person; in particular, it increases interest, motivation, and commitment to a task or assignment, according to Stanford University research. The study showed that participants who felt that they were part of a team persisted on a challenging task 48 to 64% longer than a control group. The study’s lead psychologist, Gregory Watson, explains that “these results reflect an increase in motivation – not a sense of obligation, competition, or pressure to join others.”
In the “You Are Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link” post from February, I discussed motivation as the main, and least costly, driver behind employee productivity, along with some strategies that can be used to elevate it. The Stanford study suggests that managers actually don’t need to apply an extensive array of tactics in order to increase employee productivity; they can – and should – start transforming their teams by making employees feel welcome, comfortable, and part of a group.
Not All Teams Are Created Equal
Numerous teams fall apart right from the start and never accomplish anything but chaos, missed opportunities, and revenue loss. When people are forced to work together, don’t have any sense of direction, or lack commitment, they never feel happy about their work; the resulting negativity will poison the team’s spirit and working environment. Under skillful leadership such dysfunctional teams still have a chance to remedy their hapless state. However, it will require every team member’s consent, not to mention extra effort and commitment, which can be rather challenging to obtain under the circumstances.
Some of the principal qualities which distinguish smarter teams from the rest were outlined in two separate M.I.T. studies in 2010, and they were:
- Equal investment of and contribution by every member;
- Greater individual ability to read complex emotions of others; and
- Higher percentage of female members on a team; this surprising point was explained by the fact that women are generally better endowed with emotional intelligence than men.
Traits of Highly Effective Teams
Beside the characteristics that relate to “smart” teams listed in the previous section, there are many more properties that apply to and define successful units. On a highly effective team, each member
- Is aware of and shares in the team’s objective, mission, rules and values;
- Is committed to the team’s success;
- Partakes in and shares ownership of the work;
- Is willing and able to make an impact;
- Shares responsibility and accountability for the team’s progress;
- Communicates clearly and effectively;
- Listens actively;
- Shares relevant information and updates without delay;
- Helps and encourages other team members; and
- Is able to acknowledge conflicts when they arise, and strives to resolve them immediately;
- Espouses transparent and efficacious collaboration.
A Leader’s Role
Depending on the team’s constitution, goals, project deadlines, etc., a team leader may need to assume a number of various roles and responsibilities. Effective teams, however, are essentially self-governed bodies that do not rely or depend on a particular leadership figure; a formal leader’s role within such unit would be that of a moderator and facilitator, rather than supervisor. Needless to say, teams that are less cohesive require more management, instruction, and supervision.
In addition to the principal role of providing a team with the necessary information, resources and guidance, excellent team leaders must also be “people people,” capable of establishing open and congenial relationships, along with instilling a sense of camaraderie and allegiance into each team member. Any professional who aspires to be successful in a leadership role needs to understand how vital it is to know people beyond their credentials, and how necessary it is to be able to relate to them on a more human level.
Therefore, the first and most important step in the process of building an effective team is the thoughtful and diligent selection of its members. This step determines a leader’s ensuing role and sets a foundation for the team’s subsequent success – or, alternatively, failure.
DISC and Motivators
In order to assess candidates’ fitness for a spot on a team or a particular position within a company, one ought to consider not only their professional skills and relevant experience but also the personal values, principles, and internal drivers that influence employees’ behaviors and motivation. At The Collaborative, we rely on the DISC and Motivators tool as an essential part of a teambuilding process; this key personal assessment implement is a valuable source of exclusive information. The insights gleaned from personal profiles generated by DISC are indispensable for managers and leaders seeking to make the right pick for a team, or to help their team members coalesce and collaborate more effectively.
The Behaviors and Motivators Report that completes our DISC assessment was designed to capture the particulars of personal talents, strengths and weaknesses. The Behaviors section of the report yields many insights into an individual’s perception of self; natural and adopted approaches to interacting with others; ways of responding to problems, challenges, and pace of the environment; and the rules and procedures set by others. This section provides a broad understanding of an individual’s work style and his or her value to the organization or team; it identifies possible performance limitations, and includes strategies and suggestions for effective interpersonal communication.
The Motivators section of the report helps The Collaborative to understand WHY people act the way they do by uncovering those tacit motivating factors that drive human behaviors. Insights from this section are vital in situations where a group of ambitious people who don’t know one another must promptly grasp and overcome their differences, and come together as a team. Understanding of the individual differences promotes tolerance and helps to build relationships amongst the team members, strengthening the team as a whole.
By sharing the many insights produced by the DISC and Motivators assessments with team members, team leaders can help set a foundation for seamless collaboration and communication within a team, consequently increasing the odds for the team’s success.