Are You Putting the “ME” in Team?
Surely you’ve heard the saying “There is no “I” in team” before. And while there is no specific letter “I” in team, people often dread group projects because of team dynamics.
We’ve probably all sat on one or more teams where either the team got stuck in the storming phase and little was accomplished because personalities clashed regularly or the team never made it out of the forming stage in which to preserve the relationships, they never addressed key communication issues and a smaller percentage of the team accomplished most of the work.
The tricky thing about group dynamics is that they rely on trust which has to be both given and received. In a way, it’s kinda like Twitter, where life is “double opt-in.” It is not enough for a team member to give trust to others. They must, through good communication and achievement of goals, earn trust from those they work with.
But before you can get into a smooth rhythm of team-based work, there are a few things that must be put into place first.
- All members of a well-functioning group must have clear communications about each other’s strengths, skill sets, roles and responsibilities. This ensures that team assignments can be best matched to the skill sets of the team members which can illustrate trust and respect early on in a project.
- Roles should be agreed upon at all levels. This is particularly true of team leadership, if the leader has not been selected or assigned through a formal process. If some, but not all members in a group believes that the group is running on a consensus model where all members bear equal decision-making authority, this can result in significant confusion. There may also be different definitions of what “leadership” truly means in any group. Clarifying expectations among team members can also become more important than you might initially presume.
- The process for decision-making must be agreed upon or clearly spelled out. Conflict is natural and should be encouraged on any good team so that ideas can run through a crucible and end up better for working their way through the group. However, how the group achieves consensus or makes decisions are key to results which the team can live with (even if they ultimately disagree with the decision made).
- When communications falter or needs arise, there must be a clear process for conflict resolution among the team members. Without a clear process for resolving conflict, a team will break down when it comes to trust.
The value in groups is that, collectively, they can accomplish much more when they are functioning well. When teams break down, however, they can become difficult to manage and result in long-term relationship damage that can ultimately harm your brand or agency. Keep your team together by ensuring these basic issues are clear for all involved.