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June 17, 2015

Build Team Harmony to Get More Done

Team dynamics is one of the biggest factors affecting business success. Think about it. How much time do you spend struggling with detailed technical problems every week, and how much of your energy is actually sapped by people issues? A dysfunctional team is the single, quickest way to derail a project or to jeopardise a deadline. Here we look at some simple ways to build an effective team and to keep disruption to a minimum.

Build Team Harmony to Get More Done

Team dynamics is one of the biggest factors affecting business success. Think about it. How much time do you spend struggling with detailed technical problems every week, and how much of your energy is actually sapped by people issues? A dysfunctional team is the single, quickest way to derail a project or to jeopardise a deadline. Here we look at some simple ways to build an effective team and to keep disruption to a minimum.

Once you get to a certain level in your professional career, it’s a reasonable assumption that you have the appropriate technical expertise to do your job, as do the people around you. New hires are also evaluated very carefully in terms of whether they bring the goods to the table. So once the right people are in the right jobs, the next most important factor for any manager to be on top of, in my experience is team chemistry. Teams that get along well together are simply more productive. They are not wasting their time and energy on internal fighting, nor are they personally drained by bad blood. Absences from work are lower and more gets done day-to-day when factions are not whispering in corners or planning revolution. When life is harmonious, teams can focus on achieving shared goals to the best of their collective ability.

Some teams just click because they have the right balance of people, or are made up of those rare and fabulous people with a high emotional intelligence or EQ. Others need more work but it is achievable. Think back to the best time in your career. Chances are you were super productive in a happy team. Also remember the worst time and I would bet that it was not a crisis that dragged you down but a disharmonious team.

The tone in a team has to come from the manager or team leader and trickle down religiously throughout. If you are working for one of those guys or girls that take pleasure in lobbing grenades into team dynamics or likes to divide and conquer, start planning your next move right now.

Here are 3 simple Dos and Don’ts

  1. A team exists to solve a business problem or to meet a goal. Focus the team on that business issues and not necessarily the personal issues within it. Some people like to spend a of time looking, and commentating on, what others are up to do. Do not allow discussion about individuals within the team, unless there is clearly an issue you are aware of and it is being brought to your attention, such as bullying. Work night and day to ensure everyone understands the team goal(s) implicitly. The team must be able to recite their goals forwards, backwards and sideways. As the manager, you have to walk the walk. In my experience, when a team is united around an objective, every person has a clear role in meeting that objective, issues of personality and fragmentation tend to disappear. This is especially when a team is successful. Success breeds success.
     
  2. When teams are comfortable with one another, we can use smart personality studies to help us understand one another better. I reiterate, though, that a team needs to have good level of understanding and trust before using any kind of technique. There are many methodologies out there and the one that I love is Extended DISC (www.extendeddisc.com). Extended DISC helps my clients formulate effective teams by showing each team member, in a non-judgemental manner, how they tend to work; what is their personal behavioural and communications style. Their style can be overlaid very clearly with those of the other team members. Extended DISC shows clearly why and how team members work in different ways and gives them a framework to communicate, and relate, more clearly with one another. It has a balanced component of humour. I would never use an uncontrolled, cards on the table, discussion with a team under any circumstances. These kind of sessions rarely leave anyone unscathed and they don’t move people forward in terms of either a better understanding of each other, or a better understanding of their team’s goals. At all stages in a team’s lifecycle, communication should be respectful and protective of people’s feelings.
     
  3. Managers should not hire people whom they know are difficult. The challenging cases are rarely rehabilitated and just demoralise everyone else, even if they are supertalented. You could hire a diva if you had a particular make-up of team that meant they could be accommodated but this would be rare. It is possible to hire talented people to fill gaps who don’t have attitude problems. On the same note, destabilising behaviour should not be tolerated in any team, no matter what the circumstances. The long term effects will cost you way more. I would swap 10% of talent for 10% of team ethic any day

Spend some time this week making a few notes about the current challenges in your job and see how many of them come back to team dynamics. Whether you are the manager or a team member, what can you do to remove some of the friction which is making you less productive?


This article was first published in edition 3 of Rocket, our magazine. Download your copy here, or save your address in your profile to receive a printed copy.

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