Sarah Thomas

What is the science behind successful teams?

We can learn and understand how to better our teams by understanding the science of successful teams. Start by breaking it down to its very elements. Knowing how to better communicate, cooperate, resolve conflicts, delegate tasks, and manage time and resources will put your team on the path to success. Learn how to create harmony between your team members.

Communication for Successful Teams

This is the most important element of a successful team. Without this, the rest of the elements cannot be met. But it is not as simple as just talking to each other. It is how we send and receive information throughout the group. Miscommunications cause conflicts and will slow the process to a halt if not resolved.

A helpful way to open up the team to healthy communication is to allow a constant flow of feedback within the group. Carole Robin, director of the Arbuckle Leadership Fellows Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business states that if the feedback is done the right way, it will make people feel “cared for, valued and closer…”. She has laid out some very useful tips to successfully provide feedback, including speaking up early and often, avoiding shaming, and speaking to the interests of others and including the intent of the feedback.

Some may take feedback as a negative thing and associate it with harsher criticisms. Finding ways to open up feedback in a more positive way could make them more receptive of suggestions and keep a good healthy line of communication open between everyone in the team.

Cooperation (Commitment) to Shared Values/Goals

Without a commitment from the entire team towards a common goal, the team will be unmotivated to continue the process. To have this commitment, the team must strategize and come to a common goal or something everyone can agree upon. Indeed suggests using the SMART system to set goals. Setting specific goals that are measurable, attainable, or realistic, relevant to your team, and time-related will keep your team motivated and on task.

Appealing to the interests of everyone may not be a realistic goal, but bringing your team together to compromise on a direction could be the best solution. Finding that harmony and accord within your group will keep everyone motivated to stay on task.

Problem Solving (Various Ideas and Conflict Management)

Working in a team will inevitably bring conflicts. While the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one”, it might not fully encompass how often those heads argue over whose ideas are better.  There are several ways to approach conflicts. According to Harvard Business Review, research has shown that an initial meeting with the manager or leader will create a better understanding of the problem and build empathy between team members and the leader.

Another method for conflict resolution is to bring team members together to work out their differences. This opens up the door to communication and brings together different ideas to come to a solution. However, bringing more minds to the table could cause more conflict, but using healthy communication techniques could expedite the way to resolution.

Assigning Roles/Individual and Team Strengths

Recognize the strength of the team as a whole. Get to know the strengths of the individual, which will make assigning roles and tasks easier. One way to know the strengths of team members is by having each person take a personality assessment. This gives the leader an idea of which members are suited for each position. It also will empower the team member with knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses. This gives them an idea of what influences their decision making.

It is one thing to know an individual strength. Understanding what strengths and weaknesses your team as a whole possesses is important in order to set specific team goals and which tasks would be best handled as a group.

Time/Resource Management and Efficiency

Wastefulness can be the downfall of any team. Knowing how to use resources and time effectively will save your team both time and money. Common problems that cause loss of time and resources is simply losing track of time. Forbes suggests encouraging your team to use time-tracking tools and auditing their time and see which activities are taking away from more imperative matters.

Team leaders should take a look at their own time management. Set an example for the team in proper time management. This will encourage the team as a whole to carefully look at where their time would best be spent.

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