We’ve all see it at some point or another in our professional and personal lives: when people work together well, enjoy each other’s company, and open up deep and fruitful channels of communication, productivity and morale go off the chart. When things just ‘click’, and the workplace balances fun with productivity, happy faces with hard working attitudes, great results come about with ease. It may be something we’re all familiar with and know about, but improving team dynamics and putting together a group of people who spark off each other, inspire each other, and push each other to success is sometimes easier said than done.
There is no single solution when it comes to facilitating great productivity and cohesion in your workplace. Often, it comes down to a whole range of factors, and a series of individual cogs working in harmony with each other. However, nobody who manages or works with a team could deny the importance of team dynamics. Everybody wants a team that loves working together, enjoys each others company, and sparks ideas off each other… so let’s dive right into the issue, and figure out how to make those sparks fly!
Promoting Team Dynamics: The Key to Productivity
One of the issues which many team leaders and managers face when it comes to promoting positive group dynamics is also one of its greatest strengths. Everyone you work with is an individual, with their own backgrounds, their own personality types, and their own preferences (something you may have already ascertained on paper from doing a corporate personality test with your colleagues).
That’s what makes people fascinating, and it’s also the bedrock for the kinds of teams who really succeed in what they do! You’ll have natural creatives, natural leaders, and natural analysts… and you’ll also have those who comfortably slot into supporting roles, or who prefer to be behind the scenes rather than in the limelight.
Your job as a manager or team leader is to combine those personality types, and bring together individuals who bounce off each other positively to create team dynamics that work with your projects and goals. By doing so, you can expect productivity to increase quite dramatically - some studies have shown that performative teams who know each other well, communicate socially and professionally, enjoy working together, and have a mutual understanding can even boost productivity levels by 20-25% over the space of a single year… and that’s no mean feat.
Here at Eventwise, we understand the deep and profound importance that team dynamics can bring to any business.
We’re always seeking out creative and enjoyable ways to build upon team cohesion, and allow hard-working teams to let their hair down and find new ways of communicating freely and bolstering relationships. In this article, we’ll be looking at team dynamics and group dynamics in a little more detail, and identifying just why this concept is so key when it comes to sending your productivity levels through the roof.
We’re old hands at boosting team dynamics - through fun, fascinating, and often somewhat off-the-wall activities (don’t believe us? Check out our It’s A Knockout activity… a surefire way to bring as many giggles as open channels of communication into your team!) we help teams discover their dynamism, and explore ways of making the enjoyment last throughout the working year.
What are Team Dynamics?
Team dynamics is one of those phrases which gets bandied around quite often, but many still aren’t fully aware of what it means. That’s understandable - the concept itself can be quite tricky to grasp, and is a fundamentally psychological approach to the workplace which might make some feel slightly out of their depth.
Essentially, team dynamics are subconscious, psychological forces which influence a team’s behaviour and ability to perform together. You can think of it a bit like the undercurrents of the sea, carrying boats off in different directions than they might wish to sail. These forces in come several forms, and each has its own impact on a team; sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Let’s take a look at these forces in some more detail.
# Personality Styles
As mentioned above, working with a team means working with different personality types. Some will naturally gel and work brilliantly together, others will rub each other up the wrong way, no matter how hard you or they might try to get along. As a team leader or manager, it’s of the utmost importance that teams are composed of individuals who will bring out the best in one another (although this in itself can be a hard feat to achieve).
# Team Roles
A team is - almost by definition - going to be made up people doing different roles. Great team dynamics come forwards when the personality styles fit the roles they are taking in the team.
For example, an introverted individual who struggles with decision making (but who, for instance, might be brilliant and knuckling down and getting the work done) would probably struggle with a leadership role, just as a natural leader might struggle with work which is fundamentally collaborative and based on lead-following.
We offer loads of fun and wacky events and activities based around establishing and exploring roles within a team, each of which have been curated to help teams not only come together as a tight unit, but also demonstrate unique skills of the individuals who make up that unit.
Whether it’s a classic murder mystery (brilliant for identifying the analytic minds in your group!) or something crazy - like Bubble Football - we’ve got something perfect for your needs, and sure to offer truly memorable days out.
# Office Layout
It’s amazing how much of an influence office layout and design can have on team dynamics.
The size of the rooms, the number of people in each space, the amount of natural light, colours, the presence of plants or decorations… all can have a significant impact on the psychological wellbeing and dynamics of the groups using them.
This article in Business News Daily neatly lays out the pros and cons of different office styles, and suggests adjusting the layout to fit the dynamic, rather than attempting anything the other way round.
# Tools and Tech
Are your team highly comfortable and confident in the tools and technology they are using? Do they find your systems frustrating, outdated, or difficult to use? Such questions are key, and tools and tech are definitely a significant force when it comes to team dynamics.
# Corporate Culture
The culture of your business is going to be a major factor when it comes to your group dynamics, and this will dictate how comfortable your team members feel in their day-to-day working lives.
Positive dynamics come about when team members feel they have people to turn to should they have a grievance, as well as when they need more flexibility in their work, or seek opportunities for promotion. That openness in communication, and the psychological safety of your team is extremely important, and needs to extend above and beyond the team itself to other areas of the company.
# Problem Solving Methodology
Problems crop up from time to time in every workplace, but what’s important when it comes to team dynamics is how they are dealt with and solved, and how comfortable the team feels about reporting problems or mistakes, or having the initiative to solve them by themselves.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and the subject of team dynamics actually goes considerably deeper into the emotional happiness and stability of the team (Forbes recently wrote a great article about the importance of the emotional connection team members have with each other, themselves, and with their superiors).
However, what is certain is that assessing and improving team dynamics really is very important. Positive team dynamics produce brilliant results which replicate and multiply, and spread to other teams quickly and effectively. Negative team dynamics, on the other, drag your team away from their goals, and result in poor morale, low productivity, and often devastating results.
What Causes Poor Team Dynamics?
One of the main problems with negative team dynamics is that often, the causes aren’t detected until the damage is well underway. Going back to our undercurrents metaphor, negative team dynamics can cause that ship to not even realise it’s going way off course… simply because it’s moving at a considerable pace, albeit in the wrong direction. In order to know how to correct this issue means recognising its sources. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
= Leadership Issues =
It’s all too easy to blame poor team dynamics on a few bad apples or misfits on a team. However, to do so is poor leadership personified. Weak leadership can also cause dominant (or even bullying) members of a team to fill the void, which leads to in-fighting, mixed directions, and overall low morale.
= Deference to Authority =
This occurs when team members lack the courage to speak up with their own ideas or thoughts, due to the fact they feel cowed by an overbearing leader, or simply want to be seen as agreeing with everything. Too much deference to authority leads to stagnation, frustration, and a lack of creative spark.
= Blocking =
Blocking comes in many, many different forms. However, the majority follow the same pattern, and come from the same source: a team member (often completely unwittingly) disrupting the flow of communication and information in a group. Whether caused by something as seemingly innocuous as misplaced humour, misjudged or overly harsh criticism, or a team member dominating discussion and seeking praise, blocking is a powerfully negative force which causes a lot of issues.
= Free-riding =
This is remarkably common, and team leaders need to be quite savvy when it come to nipping free-riding in the bud. This essentially refers to certain team members taking a back seat, and letting others do the bulk of the work.
= Groupthink =
Groupthink is what happens when team members value consensus over making the right choices and decisions. Make no mistake, consensus is important… but if you’re all agreeing on the wrong plan, that ship’s going to be willingly steered astray, and is likely to crash.
How to Improve Team Dynamics
There are loads and loads of different theories regarding improving team dynamics, built on different models which have been established across the decades.
One of the most enduring models is the Tuckman model, which is based on the idea that teams develop across four stages - forming, storming, norming, and performing - before reaching a fifth stage of completion, or adjourning.
The below diagram offers some more detail on this popular model, still commonly used in team development practices around the world today.
We don’t have time to go into the various approaches regarding team dynamics theory in this article today. However, it’s worth pointing out that the vast majority (if not all) of them agree on the best ways of hitting those final, positive stages, and improving team dynamics to achieve the best levels of productivity. These include:
# Knowing The Team
It might sound obvious, but the first and most effective way of improving team dynamics is to know your team and the people in it… ideally before the team is even formed.
By understanding the stages a team goes through as it develops (such as those in the Tuckman model), you can preempt problems which may arise, and select team members who will be able to take on roles which will help tackle those potential issues.
There are many, many ways of getting to know your team better. One of the best involves removing them from the workplace for the day, and taking part in activities designed to help the team truly get to know each other in a fun, dynamic, and unusual way. Imagine, for example, how much better you’d all know each other after spending a day doing our Crystal Challenge (inspired, of course, by the iconic TV show) - it’s hard to think of a better way of really learning about what makes your team members tick, and where their talents lie!
# Solve Problems Swiftly
Problems occur in all workplaces, and in all teams. A good leader will identify them quickly, listen to the opinions of their team members, and nip them in the bud before they spread bad morale or cause complications.
# Role Definition
One of the most common issues in team dynamics comes about as a result of individual members not being certain of their roles. Defining roles clearly allows the people in the team to know what is expected of them, what their boundaries are, and how they play a key part in reaching the team’s objectives.
A team charter (represented by the diagram below)
can help define this clearly and concisely.
# Breaking Barriers
Teams face plenty of barriers, simply because they are made up of different people with different personalities (as we’ve mentioned several times already). As such, there’s a lot of ice to be broken, a lot of hesitations to be overcome, and plenty of channels of communication to be opened.
The most effective way to achieve the breaking of these barriers? Staff away days and team building exercises. Eventwise is a leading provider of quality team building exercises and events, and we’ve seen the amazing effect they have on teams of all shapes and sizes!
It goes without saying that open and transparent communication is the most powerful tool you have when it comes to improving team dynamics.
Take into consideration all the different methods of communication used by your team, and make sure everyone’s on the same page at all times.
Change in plans? Send out a group SMS message or email. Something’s gone well? Be sure to let everyone know at the same time. Good morale and team dynamics are often built by the simplest things, and open, honest, and free-flowing communication is one of the big ones.
Team Dynamics: The Essence of Success and Productivity
As we’ve seen, team dynamics isn’t one thing, or one concept, or one approach. It’s a way of promoting good morale and productivity, and it’s also a symptom of a healthy working environment and psychological working atmosphere. When it works, the results can be awe-inspiring!
Here at Eventwise, we’re committed to helping businesses achieve the kind of team dynamics they deserve and desire, and through our away days, team building events, and fun, unusual, and creative workshops, we have seen superb results arise time after time. If you’d like to find out more about what we do and why we’re considered among the best in the industry, just get in touch today!