High-achieving companies recognize the importance of positive team dynamics. They invest time and resources in cultivating a culture that supports teamwork, understanding that for true success, it takes every player. Every team has to collaborate to achieve goals and resolve challenges, but what’s the secret recipe? And exactly what are team dynamics?
What Are Team Dynamics?
Team dynamics describes the behavioral relationships between the members of a group. The dynamic between them includes how they interact, communicate and cooperate. How well your team can do these things directly influences what it can accomplish.
In order to understand why companies should prioritize positive team dynamics, we need to dive into the importance of what happens when these team dynamics are present. When teams work well together (and workplaces are collaborative), both team performance and individual performance improves, and employees are more than 50% more effective at completing tasks. Not only that, but studies show that executives find that collaboration can lead to powerful “new business opportunities,” and can spur innovation in their organizations. These positive team dynamics can also lead to better employee retention, improved cost-effectiveness, and even better customer loyalty.
Human Behavior Is Often Unpredictable
In order to answer the question “what are team dynamics,” it’s important to understand that a critical component is human behavior, which is unpredictable and largely uncontrollable. However, as an effective leader, you can influence behavior. With the right team-building strategies, you can impact your team’s attitudes and interactions.
Think about your current team dynamics. Are they mostly positive or negative? If you had to create a list describing your team dynamics, how would you categorize your team’s ability to work together? No team is perfect, and there’s always the potential to improve. Let’s look at some examples to drive more clarity around your dynamics.
Good Team Dynamics Fuel Optimized Teams
When team dynamics are good, teams reap the benefits. Good team dynamics means collaboration is seamless, communication is transparent and effective, and that teams are able to set future goals and work towards them. Good team dynamics are also prime environments for innovation and creativity, meaning that teams can best serve their customers.
In short: good team dynamics are integral to how effective an organization is overall. This means that when teams have good dynamics, customers will be happier, more outcomes will be desirable, and even revenue will be maximized.
Positive Team Dynamics Examples
When you have a fully engaged group of employees that are accomplishing their goals, you’re on the path to success. This road, however, will have curves and bumps along the way. Remember, you’re dealing with human behavior. It’s not just what’s happening in the workplace that shapes this, but also what’s happening in employees’ personal lives.
When looking at positive team dynamics examples, there are several core competencies to highlight:
- Alignment: Each member of the team understands the direction and goals. There is no ambiguity around what needs to be accomplished, resulting in less tension. It’s true that apprehension and uncertainty make people tense. So, start with clarity to attain alignment.
- Transparency: Issues will come up in teams; there’s no way around that. It’s best to meet these head-on with openness and honesty. When people think there is something to hide, they become suspicious and untrusting, which is a sure way for team dynamics to suffer.
- Accountability: Lack of accountability drags down teams. Without it, there can be no trust. Ensuring that each team member is aware of their responsibilities and understands the importance of following through is crucial to having a solid team.
When Team Dynamics Are Less-Than-Optimal
What happens when team dynamics go south? When team dynamics are neutral or negative, the group will not be able to perform as effectively, team members will be less engaged (or not engaged at all), and communication can be poor. This can lead to less-than-optimal results across the board, including poor work outcomes and even less satisfied customers.
In order to understand why team dynamics might be less-than-desirable, leaders can take steps to understand their team’s conflict style. Most teams use a combination of conflict styles to navigate high-stakes situations. When you understand each team member’s primary and backup conflict style, you have an important window into their interpersonal dynamics. Looking into a team’s conflict styles can offer clarity into how and why your teams are (or are not) producing the desired results.
Change Starts From Within
In order to best understand and optimize team dynamics, managers can start with turning the lens on themselves, and looking for ways to improve their performance as a leader. Data tells us that effective leaders can help foster trust, motivate and engage employees, contribute to a culture of clear accountability, and maybe most importantly, “are capable of driving outcomes.”
With this in mind, managers can take steps to improve their own leadership, in order to lead with authority on improving team dynamics and performance. Here are some tips to get you started. They can also take steps to become more empathetic leaders, to best encourage their team and serve their organization.
Know Your Own Strengths and Shortcomings
One of the best places to start with improving as a leader is to get an excellent handle on your strengths, and on your weaknesses. Where do you excel, and where do you struggle? What efforts of yours succeed with ease, and which ones tend to fall flat? Identifying these areas, and looking for ways to improve, can help you make strategic advancements as a leader.
Work With a Mentor
Everyone can benefit from a mentor, even executives and leaders. Find a professional mentor who you can learn from, discuss ideas with, and share thoughts with. Even just having a professional sounding board can be extremely useful for leaders who are looking to improve.
Always Have Goals in Mind
Leaders should always be working towards specific goals, and acting with those goals in mind. This will lead to intentional, useful actions, along with clear and decisive leadership decisions.
Participate in Leadership Development
Leaders don’t have to go at it alone, and instead, should turn to trusted and advanced leadership development tools. Here at RallyBright, our solutions are excellent for not only improving team results, but also for keeping leaders engaged and adaptable through disruption, employing the best strategies for long-term resilience.
Ways to Improve Team Dynamics
Leaders know that even the best-performing teams can benefit from ongoing efforts to improve and strengthen their relationships. As a leader, you have the power to influence the way your team interacts with each other and to create an environment that fosters positive and productive working relationships.
With that in mind, you can improve and build team dynamics with these strategies.
Communicate Often & Consistently
Groups that overachieve, over-communicate. There is frequent discussion about all aspects of a project with a concentration on resolving issues. When communication flows freely, teams are clicking. Communicating better isn’t really that hard; we just forget to do it because we’re busy.
Or worse yet, we make assumptions that people should know or do things. That’s a dangerous proposition, so make it easy to communicate with others in every medium. You’ll learn that miscommunications create frustration and huge hurdles to alignment, transparency and accountability.
Good team dynamics won’t collapse because of conflict. Conflict is normal among peers and isn’t negative when it’s constructive. A team that can work through conflict grows stronger. Colleagues don’t have to agree all the time. In fact, innovation falters when that’s the case. When conflict comes up on your team, try to ensure it isn’t taken personally. Once people frame conflict as necessary and normal, it’s easier to resolve it.
Put Plans & Projects in Writing
When you kick off a project, does it include a brief listing out of objectives, tactics and workflows? If not, then you are starting at a point of ambiguity. When you document the plan and all its moving parts, there’s no question about responsibilities and deliverables. Such a document should be accessible to every team member for feedback, questions and input. It’s a simple step that can improve team dynamics dramatically.
Determine How You’ll Make Decisions
Part of team dynamics includes how decisions are made collectively, but you need to define the type of consensus required to move forward. Your team shouldn’t follow a process where leaders make decrees and workers fulfill them. This type of environment isn’t sustainable, nor will it be successful. Work out how you will make decisions together.
Build a Stronger Team Today
Team dynamics continue to change as your team and culture do. Building a strong foundation is vital to improving how your team works together. Understanding how people work together and what makes a team resilient can ensure your workplace remains productive, positive and goal-oriented. One way to do this is by utilizing DISC assessments, which measure a person’s personality and behavior style based on four attributes: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. DISC assessments can help leaders understand individual work styles, and use this knowledge to build the strongest team possible. Team assessment surveys universally benefit teams.
Good Team Dynamics Lead to Stronger Teams
When it comes to effective, results-driven, and goal-oriented teams, just about nothing matters more than team dynamics. Even if a product is great, leadership is strong, and the business model is solid, an organization will have a lot of trouble accomplishing its goals if team dynamics are poor.
By understanding “what are team dynamics” and taking steps to improve them, leaders can excel at team performance management, and positively influence their team’s behavior. And one of the best ways to take control of your team’s dynamics is with RallyBright’s science, software and skills. Our team-based tools help data-driven leaders quickly identify and tackle top challenges keeping their teams from achieving success.