We all know about the importance of your work group’s effectiveness to overall team performance and your company’s success. But what do you do when high-performing individuals on your team create turbulence in terms of group dynamics and cohesiveness? Even if they are well intentioned and trying to enhance the effectiveness of their colleagues?
Over the past month, I encountered exactly this situation with a client organization. Feedback from others through an executive feedback process verified the engagement and high performance attributed to two individuals. In group sessions, these two team members challenged the status quo and encouraged their colleagues to ‘up their game.’ However, the way in which this was done often created confusion, frustration and disengagement.
As group leader, you need to manage what others find to be disruptive behaviour, no matter where it’s coming from. Otherwise, the dysfunction eventually starts to impact overall team effectiveness and ultimately individual performance. Don’t forget that your own reputation and career success hinges on not just on your own individual performance, but on other’s perception of your team and its effectiveness.
To ensure you set the right foundation for team cohesion and alignment, here are five key actions to consider:
1. Clarify Strategy
Be sure everyone is an active participant in the setting of overall direction, goals and priorities – engagement leads to commitment. In turn, team members need to understand their respective responsibilities and what is required of them in terms of deliverables. Most importantly, your team must be able to adjust roles and priorities, in a coordinated and aligned fashion, in response to changing business needs.
2. Enhance Interdependence
Seek to create workflow and processes that span the roles of individual team members. This creates situations in which each member of your team is impacted by decisions and/or the job performance of his/her colleagues. Ideally your team members will also need information, resources or expertise from others to accomplish their work. Some employees will also require ongoing assistance and direct support from colleagues to do their jobs successfully.
3. Strengthen Commitment
Placing overall team goals and priorities ahead of individual work objectives is critical for both team and company success. Members must also be willing to fully support team decisions – whether or not the decisions advance their own individual interests. Ideally, team members will put in extra time to back up their colleagues when they’re facing difficulty or need help in their work. Finally, everyone on the team must honour and follow-through on their commitments.
4. Improve Communications
Effective team dynamics are greatly enhanced or damaged by the communications that take place between members. Active listening, to really understand others’ ideas perspectives and suggestions, is an excellent starting point. While offering alternative views and perspectives is important, it must be done without downplaying or devaluing input from others. Be aware of team members who dominate the conversation, since nothing disengages people faster than a one-sided monologue – particularly if it’s focused just on one person’s agenda.
5. Build Connections
Strengthening interpersonal relationships on a team pays huge dividends, particularly during challenging and stressful times. Ideally, your team members will seek opportunities to better understand each other outside of formal team meetings. During meetings, everyone should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings and wants while acting in the best interests of their colleagues. And finally, team behaviour must align not only with the values of your organization, but also with the behavioural expectations and standards of your team.
Rather than wait for team dynamics to deteriorate before intervening, set a solid foundation to ensure effective performance and continued success. Clarifying strategy, enhancing interdependence, strengthening commitment, improving communications and building connections are key ingredients.
If you want to better understand your team’s dynamics through insightful and actionable executive feedback, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at [email protected] or +1-250-882-8830.