Understanding interpersonal dynamics in teams can help managers identify the optimal arrangement of individuals to ensure team success and high performance. This article identifies the seven factors that influence whether or not a team will demonstrate high performance and ultimately be successful.
Will the Team Work Well Together?
When individuals gather to achieve a common goal, many interpersonal dynamics play a role in whether or not the team will be successful. Sometimes a team can mesh well together and succeed at anything they attempt; however, other teams, regardless of available resources, seem to flounder in failure.
So, how can leaders determine whether a team will demonstrate effective team performance? It can be done by observing and evaluating the following seven factors that collectively contribute to team success: cohesion, communication, groupthink, homogeny, role identity, stability, and team size.
The first factor to consider is how cohesive members are with one another. Once a team is highly cohesive, a member’s commitment and willingness to strive for excellence thrives. Team cohesion affects the extent to which members like one another, get along with each other, and trust and respect one another’s abilities and opinions. Although these characteristics are difficult to observe, managers can look for signs that team members are well-acquainted past superficial meet-and-greet topics. Managers can also determine whether team members equally participate in group discussions and activities rather than forming cliques or subgroups of cohesive units.
Efficient communication mechanisms are crucial to develop effective teams. In order to understand the scope of a goal and agree upon a path to reach that goal, teams must develop an effective method of communication. Indicators of effective team communication include: mellow conversation tones, willingness to consider all opinions, desire to enhance communication frequency, effective conflict resolution, and efficient decision-making processes. Furthermore, to foster team cohesion, employee satisfaction, and motivation, organizations should implement a formal conflict resolution process in cases where a team cannot effectively resolve conflict internally.
Groupthink is a tendency for decision-making teams to suppress opposing viewpoints in order to preserve group harmony. This phenomenon can occur because individual team members have an overwhelming desire to be accepted and teams want to minimize conflict. When determining the degree to which a team is experiencing groupthink, a manager can evaluate whether the team is exerting an excessive amount of dominating characteristics. Other signs of groupthink include individual conformity, apathy toward team goals and outcomes, peer-pressure exerted by leaders within the team, and discussions that tend to be one-sided.
Homogeneity is the extent to which members are similar or different to one another. The difficulty for most project managers is finding the right balance between overly homogenous and overly heterogeneous. When evaluating team homogeneity, a manager can consider similarities and differences in personal characteristics, education, skills, abilities, generational backgrounds, cultural background, and income levels.
Teams that are homogenous tend to be highly cohesive and can easily develop effective communication methods that reduce conflict. However, too much homogeneity leads to greater instances of groupthink. Alternatively, teams that are highly heterogeneous have an advantage because members are highly diverse, which leads to more instances of creativity, ingenuity, and resourceful productivity. However, teams that are too diverse may limit the degree to which members can relate to one another and effectively communicate.
5. Role Identity
Role identity is the extent to which members are capable of assuming different roles throughout the team structure, thus diversifying efforts and developing subject matter experts. The diverse skills and knowledge that members bring to a team provide a large range of capabilities necessary to achieve a goal. Managers can observe the extent to which a team can recognize the individual potential in each member and identify the role best suited for that member. If not, a team cannot be expected to be highly functional and perform well.
The sixth factor that significantly influences team performance is the degree of stability among members and project leaders. Teams that have lower turnover rates experience higher levels of group cohesion, better communication methods, and more effective role identity. In addition to simply evaluating turnover rates, managers can evaluate the degree to which members are comfortably interdependent with one another, which comes with stable and trusting relationships.
7. Team Size
By evaluating a team’s size, managers are able to maximize productivity to ensure high levels of team performance. The greater number of members within a team the more resources available to achieve a goal. However, as team size increases, so does the number of conflicts resulting in decreased levels of cohesion and inefficient productivity. To evaluate whether a team is too large or small, managers must consider how effectively and harmoniously members work together and whether the required tasks are being efficiently accomplished by all members of the team.