Jared is a client of mine, in London, who invested a good deal of time and money in bringing together what he believed to be a really smart and bright team. They were to be known as Corporate Achievers and be the ones who would anticipate corporate challenges and be the bright sparks and go-getters of the business by bringing in entrepreneurial traits to raise productivity and profitability.
He asked me to meet them and to conduct one-to-one interviews to ascertain their psychological profile and potential ability. In other words, now that he had selected them, he wanted my opinion as to how they would interact and work together as a team.
After my report, all initially went well but then he called me back to say that his high hopes for this innovative and creative team were not being fulfilled.
Apparently, although individually they were all potentially high achievers, within a team they just failed to work constructively together.
Two team members were inevitably always highly critical of the proposals of other colleagues and interpreted them as a competitive challenge; another failed to have the courage of his own convictions and in any discussion with a more dominant team member, would tend to merely listen and not to interact or to contribute.
Jared called me back and asked what he could do about this very real problem. He wanted to know how he could manage and improve these unproductive group dynamics that had such a negative effect on the morale and engagement of the team and inevitably on the business. He was very disappointed that his vision of a team of Corporate Achievers was not working and that now he had to deal with yet another challenge.
What are Group Dynamics?
The term ‘group dynamics’ refers to a system of behaviour, including psychological processes that occur within a group of people or between social groups. A group that exhibits positive dynamics will usually have high energy levels. They are recognisable because it is clear that team members trust each other, invariably work towards a corporate or united group decision and hold each other accountable to ensure that agendas, goals, targets and deadlines are adhered to.
In a group that exhibits poor dynamics, individual behaviour can disrupt work; lead to poor decision making, unproductive outcomes and unexplored options.
What causes poor Group Dynamics
1. Weak leadership: when a team fails to recognise and appoint a strong leader, then there is a lack of direction and poor focus as individual team members vie for position and oppose one another’s ideas.
2. Unconditional deference to the loudest voice: when people agree to self-proclaimed authority without question, then they will probably, in turn, hold back from expressing their own opinions.
3. Blocking: when team members deliberately stop the free flow of information in the group.
Identify group problems quickly: Be on the lookout for individual behaviour that is having a negative effect on the group. Then find out why this behaviour is taking place.
Get to know your team: Find out what their strengths and weakness are in order to value each person’s contribution openly in front of the whole group.
Communicate: Open and clear communication is the key to achieving highly efficient team dynamics. All members need to be adept at sharing information and knowledge. Above all, remember that good communication involves attentive listening!
Define roles and responsibilities: Make sure that the team is correctly aware of its brief and agenda.
Accountability: Each person should be personally accountable within the group for their own actions and contributions.
Encourage the team to get to know each other: This is particularly relevant when new members join, at which time, a ‘buddying’ system could usefully be employed.
Remember that poor team dynamics can occur within any team, particularly when members change or the size alters to meet new challenges. This can happen very quickly. When team dynamics are positive, the group works cohesively but if they deteriorate for any reason, then the result can immediately impact productivity.
Every leader should regularly monitor the efficiency of his/her group interaction and to identify and rectify any poor behaviour. Group dynamics means hunting and living like a pride of lions – not like a solitary elephant.
Enjoy the richness within your team!
1. A dynamic team acts as one
2. Good communication is the key
3. Be part of a pack, not a loner
Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News
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