For today’s organisation, teams have become the basic and fundamental unit through which work is carried out. Organisations and their people will perform better when everyone works together as a team towards an aligned goal. In commercial environments, top management teams will often make decisions at a strategic level which influences the long-term sustainability of organisations.
After an extensive review of recent literature, The Happiness Index have compiled a checklist of 5 critical predictors of effective teamwork in today’s organisation. But these don’t just apply to the world of business:
- You may be a student struggling with your first group-work assignment.
- You may be a member of a Think Tank – trying to come up with solutions to today’s very pertinent healthcare crisis.
- You may be a seasoned professional managing a team of software developers.
Whoever you are – these 5 top tips will help to get you thinking about how to manage teams more effectively and be a great team member yourself.
1: Effective teams are good at sharing knowledge
We’ve all heard people say to us in a group context: “No idea is a bad idea”, or “don’t be afraid to share something – even if you think it’s silly.” It’s no surprise that research shows that information sharing is strongly related to team performance outcomes.
Of particular importance here is how well teams share unique and specialised information with each other. Unique information sharing serves to enhance team effectiveness by expanding the pool of knowledge that is available for processing.
Sharing your unique insight, or encouraging team members to share theirs, is an effective way to gel as a team. By encouraging everyone to do this, you will fulfil your shared goal more efficiently. An effective way to do this is by adopting regular pulse surveys that provide your team with the opportunity to share their ideas, innovations and even concerns.
2: Effective teams are comprised of individuals who have positive relationships with each other
Aren’t group tasks so much more pleasant where you have great relationships with your team-mates? The benefits don’t just stop there. A recent meta-analysis examined 64 studies, and found that team members who liked each other more, performed better in group tasks.
Group cohesion and “Interpersonal attraction” come into play here. Interpersonal attraction connotes “a shared liking for, or attachment to the members of the group.” Put simply, it’s where everyone likes each other!
The positive effects of interpersonal attraction operate by encouraging group members to exert efforts towards performance for the sake of their fellow, well-liked group members. Furthermore, where team members like each other, they share more information and are better able to provide emotional resources to each other in times of need. Positive relationships between team members can help to encourage individuals to share ideas without fear of ridicule or critique.
3: Effective teams manage conflict appropriately
Have you ever worked in a group, where one team member just seems to clash with another, creating a negative and hostile working environment?
Conflict is a process that results from a tension between group members because of perceived or real differences.
Conflict falls into two categories:
- Relationship conflict – refers to conflicts regarding values, interpersonal styles and personal tastes.
- Task conflict – refers to conflicts regarding the distribution of resources, judgements, interpretation of facts, procedures and policies.
Relationship conflict can interfere with team performance, and has detrimental effects on group satisfaction. Task conflict, on the other hand, can benefit a team. Effective teams will recognise task-related disagreements and use them to their benefit. This is often in the form of constructive debate.
4: Effective teams set clear and specific goals
Sometimes in a group work setting, we’re not always clear on what we are trying to achieve. In a recent review of studies that examined the effect of team goal setting, researchers identified that 95% of studies that used specific goals demonstrated positive effects on group performance. Only 50% of studies, where goals were not specific, produced the same effect.
Goal setting theory suggests that where goals are specific, clear, challenging and attainable, performance will be enhanced. The inverse will happen when goals are absent or lacking in these features.
In teams, many individuals may have different understandings of what the overall goal is, so it is key to clearly define your goals. Goals help to enhance performance by directing attention, mobilising effort, encouraging persistence, and encouraging strategy development.
An effective method to develop goals for your team is David McCrae’s SS DOPE method:
- Specific: What exactly do you want to achieve?If your goal is to increase profits, then be specific – “We want to increase sales by 10%.”
- Steps: Break down the goal into individual steps. These steps should be challenging and stretch you just out of your comfort zone.
- Dates: Set a starting date and completion date for your goal. Setting a time frame gives you a sense of urgency and commitment.
- Obstacles: What is likely to stop you from achieving your goal, or slow down progress?
- Preparations: How can you plan ahead to avoid or minimise the obstacles that could stop your team from achieving their goals?
- Exciting: Why is your goal important to you and your team?What will drive you to achieve your goals throughout the tough times?
5: Effective teams are all “on the same page”
Have you ever failed as a group, because not everyone had the same idea as to how to complete a task? For example, if a football team aren’t all aware of the game strategy then you could have 11 people running around like headless chickens!
Theorists refer to this as having a “Shared Mental Model.” Shared mental models refer to the extent to which descriptions, explanations and predictions concerned with task processes and strategy execution are shared amongst team members.
When team members have these shared mental models and aligned views – it allows individuals to anticipate their fellow team members’ needs. This will allow everyone to coordinate their actions more appropriately. This will ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Understanding organisational performance at the team level is critical to business success. Here at The Happiness Index, we understand the importance of team dynamics, and our technology can help you to understand how your teams are operating. This understanding is critical for facilitating performance within your teams.
If you wanted to follow up on some of the more academic literature that has been referred to throughout this post, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!