Team Dynamics (How can we move forward together?)
Most of us have been part of a team at some point in our lives. Teams come together around a common purpose. We understand that teams can achieve more than an individual can. When teams are running well the energy is high, capacity is increased and team members enjoy working together towards their common purpose. The way team members interact within the team is known as team dynamics.
"None of us is as smart as all of us." --Ken Blanchard
If what Ken Blanchard says is true, why is it that a lot of teams run at under 60% of their potential?
The answer is that we are all different. We all have a different ‘voice’, or way of operating within our teams. If those differences are not understood and championed it will undermine the effectiveness of the team. For teams to succeed, we need to access and understand other people’s voices, especially those that are not the same as ours. This requires intentionality initiated by the team leader and adopted by the whole team.
Whilst living in India I led a team that was made up of people from different countries. Communicating across different languages and through different cultures can be tricky. Quite often, I would ask people in my team to do things believing I had been understood only to find the task done completely differently to what I had in mind. Something was lost in translation.
Clear communication is key for a team to succeed. This is only possible if we understand each other’s innate tendencies and intentionally change our behaviour so that each person can make their best contribution. Even teams that work well together will work more effectively if they truly understand each other.
Communication is key to teams working well, and the key to effective communication is to understand that each of us bring a different voice to the team. This may be obvious, but we have to be aware that not everyone is like us. The team leader plays a key role in recognising the different voices in their team. And a good team leader creates a culture or environment that enables each team member to bring their best contribution.
In the Zulu tribe there is a greeting – “Sawubona” – which means I see you. We all want to be seen or appreciated for what we bring. By recognising that each team member has a different “voice” or way of contributing, we practice “seeing” people and appreciating their voice and contributions.
Different team member’s voices may be ‘quieter’ or ‘louder’ than others. There are those who do their tasks in a step by step way or seemingly at the last minute. These different ways of doing things point to how people are wired, their innate tendencies. You may be tempted to think that the way that other people approach certain tasks is wrong. But in fact, they’re not wrong, they’re just different! In order to understand each other we need a common language that is simple and allows us to access voices that may be unnatural to us.
Misunderstandings over time can undermine trust in the team. But there is hope. There are simple tools available that can give your team a common “sticky” language around personality that enables you to access higher levels of team effectiveness. Through this language you’ll each understand how your team can work best.
I’d love to help your team achieve its full potential. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help.