How team dynamics impact performance
Creating a high-performing team isn’t as easy as gathering the most talented, qualified and motivated people together for a task. The calibre of staff may be high, but the performance, growth and results can still be low. So how does this happen?
The short answer? Team dynamics. Hiring managers often consider the skills and experience of their employees, but not how their different personalities will work together. According to TeamStage, 75% of staff surveyed claimed that teamwork and collaboration are crucial to corporate success, while 86% of executives feel a lack of collaboration is responsible for company failures at large.
Poor team dynamics can affect not only the productivity of your company but also team morale. So what is team dynamics, and how can it affect your efficiency? Read on to discover the impact of team dynamics on performance.
What are team dynamics?
In simple terms, team dynamics are the unconscious psychological influences that shape and direct a team’s behaviour, rapport and performance. Team members’ roles and responsibilities often affect these dynamics, which then directly affect the group’s productivity.
When the team starts to work together, people’s individual behaviours become dependent on the interactions around them, influencing their demeanour, manners and conduct. From here, the dynamic can evolve – people’s motivations, attitudes and cognition start to emerge, influencing how everybody feels about each other, their team and their project.
Why is having good team dynamics important?
It provides strong leadership
A good team dynamic ensures that everyone understands every person’s role and respects it – giving the right person the perfect opportunity to become a strong leader.
Great leaders inspire everyone within their team to achieve their full potential – whether that be growing into a new position or guiding them to their ultimate professional goals. Effective leaders also provide clarity of purpose, motivation and new, out-of-the-box ideas. Put quite simply, strong leadership increases the team’s productivity and growth.
Read ‘6 Golden Rules For Managing Staff’ here.
It encourages greater collaboration
When people are comfortable working with each other, it creates a more relaxed, informal environment. This allows for higher levels of cooperation and collaboration amongst team members and opens them up to new ideas and perspectives they may not have considered before.
And when the team collaborates and works together effectively, projects and tasks are completed in a much shorter timeframe, saving the company time and money.
It yields better results and productivity
Strong team dynamics ensure that everyone is working to their fullest potential. And when everyone is dedicated to functioning at their best, the results are naturally going to be of higher quality.
A solid team dynamic makes every member feel supported to perform better than they ever have before. Perhaps someone has suggested a new point of view they’ve never considered before or pitched in to help when the workload became too much. Whatever the reason, the improved results speak for themselves.
What are the negative impacts of poor team dynamics?
A team without a strong, undefined leader often lacks direction and may focus on the wrong priorities. It also leaves the team vulnerable to being taken over by a dominant team member – which can stifle engagement from other people or make the workspace feel like an unsafe place to contribute.
Social psychologist Irving L. Janis first coined the term ‘groupthink’ in 1972. It refers to the psychological phenomenon where people aim for consensus within a group. In many cases, individuals will set aside their own beliefs to ‘keep the peace’.
People who disagree with the decisions being made will often remain silent, choosing to be polite and agreeable rather than disrupt the group. This can be caused by a lack of open communication or fear that they’ll be laughed at or discouraged. The result? A team that doesn’t explore different solutions or consider other points of view.
Blocking behaviours obstruct, change, subvert vision or hinder the team from reaching their goals and objectives. While not always intentional, these behaviours are considered a reflexive reaction.
Some examples of blocking behaviours include:
- Being overly critical of others’ opinions or ideas
- Not participating in discussions or tasks
- Interrupting sessions by making jokes at inappropriate times
- Disagreeing with everyone’s ideas except their own
Top tips for improving your team dynamics
Forming, storming, norming, and performing
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman came up with the model, ‘forming, storming, norming, and performing’ in his 1965 paper, ‘Developmental Sequence in Small Groups’.
- Forming – when team members start to get to know their colleagues and what makes them tick.
- Storming – people start to show their true colours and may start to push established boundaries and create friction.
- Norming – differences are resolved, and everyone starts to feel more comfortable with each other. A stronger commitment to the team’s goals is cemented.
- Performing – now the team is in full flow and performing to their full potential.
By understanding each stage, you can help your team become more effective and perform better in a shorter period.
Provide constructive and timely feedback
Giving timely and well-delivered feedback not only corrects poor behaviour but also creates cohesion among the team and helps improve individual performance.
The whole process of providing feedback can create a stronger, more harmonious workplace. Just ensure that your delivery is tactful, constructive and focuses on the task at hand.
Team building exercises
Team building exercises are designed to build connections between team members, creating lasting bonds and improved teamwork and working practices. They also emphasise leadership skills, encourage collaboration and optimise team success.
Some examples of team building activities are:
- Solving a puzzle like a 500-piece puzzle or a brain teaser.
- Have a brainstorming session. Give everyone the agenda ahead of time, and ask them to come to the meeting with three to five ideas. Have everyone workshop through them together.
- Host a ‘lunch and learn’. Every team member teaches the rest of the group a new and unique skill over lunch. It could be anything – knitting, Excel or a few phrases of a new language.
At the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), we offer a practical learning approach that is effective for developing business leaders. Our courses influence the performance of managers working with real problems to produce effective solutions for their organisation. Check your eligibility today.