Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Identifying and solving problems is a huge part of improving team dynamics. It’s also essential to strengthen your team to make it less likely that you will need to fix problems in the future that arise from miscommunication, lack of interest, physical and psychological discomfort, and all the other issues that lead to poor team dynamics.
Question: How do some teams get everyone to row in the same direction in a seemingly effortless way while others struggle and sink to the bottom?
Answer: Team dynamics – the behavioral relationships between different members of the team.
In this article, we take a look at the different ways to improve team dynamics. Each improvement made will get your team interacting, communicating, and working better together toward success.
The term “team dynamics” can be challenging to define as it is not tangible or measurable.
You can think of team dynamics as the psychological forces that influence the direction of your team’s behavior and performance.
It’s the way the members of your team interact with one another.
These interactions are guided by:
- Unique personalities
- Individual behaviors
- Nature of the work
- Relationships existing within the team
- Team leadership
Why Are Team Dynamics Important?
One of the main reasons why group dynamics matter so much is that they define the effectiveness of the team.
Every area of their work performance impacts a wide range of things in a business, including:
As a result, team dynamics have a massive influence on the overall project outcome.
Group work is crucial to organizations. Improving team dynamics leads to enhanced work outcomes, increased customer satisfaction, and boosts your bottom line.
Regardless of how knowledgeable or experienced individual team members are, your lineup will fail to produce the best possible results without the right dynamic.
Understanding the dynamics of a team can give you an indication of how successful that team might be.
As you may have guessed, a positive dynamic will draw out the best from everyone. In contrast, a negative dynamic will result in demotivation, lower productivity, conflict, and so on.
Positive team dynamics happen when:
- Each member of the team feels comfortable to have constructive dialogue and share their ideas.
- You can recognize good team dynamics when team members trust each other and are ready to work collectively.
- Teams with positive dynamics provide support, brainstorm ideas, listen to other team members, and hold each other accountable.
- The members of teams with good dynamics are more successful, and there is a low chance of conflict.
For the most part, people in this group are constructive and productive. They demonstrate self-corrective behavior and mutual understanding.
Here are a few examples of how good team dynamics look:
- Alignment: Every member of the team understands their role in the project, project objectives, and the direction of project development.
- Open Communication: Open communication happens when all the team members are willing to discuss problems that arise throughout the project.
- Conflict Resolution: When participants feel comfortable enough to take issues to the group for public discussion and conflict resolution.
- Optimistic Thinking: Teams with good dynamics have participants ready to commit to projects even when things are going wrong.
- Commitment to the Project: Teams with good dynamics are deeply involved with their projects and feel at ease sharing ideas on making improvements.
Now that you know how to spot good team dynamics let’s look at how you can identify poor team dynamics.
Identify When Team Dynamics Are Off
Poor team dynamics means that individuals whose behavior disrupts work processes fail to achieve positive results.
Deficient team dynamics can be due to a range of factors, including:
- Inadequate decision-making
- No decision-making at all
- Repeated wrong choices
- Poor leadership
When group dynamics are off, it leaves the team more vulnerable to conflict.
When negative conflicts are generated within a team, participants feel vulnerable and unwilling to speak up or share their ideas.
Even with a team of world-class professionals, you get poor results from their collaboration if the team has poor dynamics.
Now you know what positive group dynamics look like and how to spot when team dynamics are off.
The great thing about a team’s dynamics is that if you know the parameters and effectively monitor them, you can influence them.
If a project starts badly, there’s something you can do about it. Attempt to alter the team dynamics, rather than simply observing the project slowly go off the rails.
Before you start creating and implementing strategies for improving your team’s dynamics, you need to get to know your team.
Meet with the team and study them. This will make your job easier when it comes to applying practical techniques for team development.
Here are a few tips to help you become more observant so you can understand your team better:
- Set up a team meeting to discuss and review projects or surveys with the team. Managers can also interact with teams by including their answers to surveys.
- Schedule individual interviews with each team member and encourage open discussion about the project or teams.
- Celebrate often with the team to get to know them personally and build a culture of inclusion.
- Ensure teams have access to the right set of tools that enable them to maximize their productivity. For instance, automating expense tracking and reporting helps Finance Teams focus on more productive work by letting the software take care of the mundane tasks.
- Observe the team during work and at breaks and note how they communicate and address issues.
Getting to know your team is only the first step. As you continue to study team members, you will better understand any weaknesses in communication or pain points within the team.
The next step in improving team dynamics is to identify problems early. It’s easier to resolve issues if you do so early, and it helps prevent them from becoming critical later on.
Different teams have different problems. Here are a few of the most common:
- Weak Leadership: When a team lacks a strong leader, there is no one to delegate tasks effectively and define project development direction.
- Authoritative Approach and Groupthink: This situation discourages individual responsibility or creativity and is not conducive to a positive team dynamic.
- Lack of Interest: Some team members may not be fully involved in projects, resulting in other team members having to do most or all of the work.
- Psychological Discomfort: When team members hide their feelings or are motivated by emotions, it results in poor communication and negative attitudes toward the project.
Conduct a diagnosis of your team to determine if any of these or other common causes of poor team dynamics are present.
Once you’ve completed your health check, it’s time to move on to the next step.
After pinpointing the issue, you must address and fix it. It’s essential to do so quickly to prevent the issue from escalating or becoming an even bigger problem in the future.
Dealing with individuals:
If, for instance, you notice a team member engaged in unhelpful behavior, address it immediately by speaking to them directly or inviting them to reflect on their behavior and how they can change it to align with the team’s goals. Depending on the situation, this can be a private discussion or group talk.
Tip: Be willing to listen as well as talk. Don’t make assumptions, and avoid being confrontational as employees may be genuinely clueless that their behavior affects other team members.
Dealing with teams:
Even in the healthiest of teams, conflicts can arise from time to time. An effective way to handle this is to encourage team members to openly discuss the conflict and then guide them toward a resolution that will allow the team to return to a positive dynamic.
The most important thing here is to help team members feel comfortable speaking openly to hide their real emotions and thoughts.
Such conflict resolution will also help maintain positive dynamics by excluding sarcastic or joking attitudes that hinder interpersonal communication.
4. Build Communication
To foster effective communication within a team, you must provide them with tools to encourage clear and open communication with each other such as webinar software for meetings and to have access to a coaching platform, as it will help boost your employee’s use of soft skills and enhance internal cooperation.
Consider all types of communications that your team uses, especially email communication. It is still the most effective way, as more than half of the world’s population are email users.
Focus on transparency and keep team members updated about news, project changes, etc. so they feel included in what’s going on.
Use various techniques to help team members work on their communication. These include:
- Self-advocacy development methods
- Group decision-making development techniques
- Team building games to enhance collaboration
- Activities to improve interpersonal relationships among participants
Make sure you give all team members – both opinionated and quieter ones – the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Although not all team members have developed communication skills by default, taking these steps makes it more likely that the team will work together successfully to achieve their goals.
As you have seen so far, team dynamics is a compelling force. If it’s positive, it can be a huge source of creative and enhancing ability. But, if it takes on a negative form, it can prove disruptive for your projects.
So how can you ensure that you only have positive dynamics in your team? You can do so by setting standards to build a winning team culture. It can be as simple as getting courses from a respected course creator to train your team, or it may involve constantly improving your team.
Here are the steps to help you set a standard for your team culture:
Whether you do it on purpose or not, a culture will develop around your team. If you choose the default, you won’t have any control over what you get.
So, it’s a good idea to design the team culture you want from the beginning, so you have a clear connection between behaviors, emotions, and beliefs that are expected, rewarded, and reinforced within your particular group.
Different teams will have different standards that they lean toward. These might include how the team:
- Does the work (collaboration, accuracy, timeliness, etc.)
- Communicates with each other
- Embraces accountability
- Measures success
- Handles mistakes
You can then go through constant feedback and coaching with your team members (individually and as a team) to effectively communicate expectations and reinforce the team standards you have agreed to. Remember that perfect is the enemy of good when it comes to team culture. Don’t expect perfection overnight, have patience with the process.
Since team dynamics have such a dramatic impact on teams’ success in achieving goals, identifying essential characteristics of winning team dynamics can be helpful when evaluating existing teams or creating new ones.
Here’s what you should look for:
- Shared Purpose: Teams have shared goals, and whenever everyone is clear on what the goal is, it makes it more likely that they will successfully achieve it.
- Openness and Trust: Team members need to feel safe to share ideas and information without fear of embarrassment or punishment.
- Accountability: Everyone on the team needs to be willing to acknowledge and correct mistakes to become more productive.
- Inclusion and Diversity: Winning teams know how to leverage the different ideas and thoughts held by individual members to help them come up with more creative and innovative solutions.
- Interdependence: When team members understand their value and responsibility and know why they are part of the team, they develop a strong sense of belonging.
There you have it… 5 ways to improve team dynamics, as well as the characteristics to look out for when building new teams or strengthening existing ones.
Use the information in this article to help you create and maintain positive team dynamics that will bring improved results to your business.
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