What is Team Dynamics?
Team dynamics is the interaction of the members of a team. It is influenced by their relationships, tasks, and social structures.
Team dynamics is a complex subject that has been studied for decades by psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and other researchers from diverse fields. There are many ways that teams can be analysed from an organizational perspective, but it is often done through analysis of organizational culture. Researchers have found that culture has a big impact on team dynamics and effectiveness in teams.
Team dynamics can affect day-to-day interactions, the work each member does and how the team collaborates. If your team has positive dynamics, members work more effectively together, generate better & more innovative ideas and are generally happier in their jobs.
Psychological factors can have a huge impact on team dynamics, and these are the factors that teams need to be aware of. Individual recognition is important, but leadership also means understanding how individuals interact within a group.
What are the Different Types of Teams?
There are three different types of teams: functional, cross-functional, and project.
Functional teams are made up of people who have the same skillset(s) and job function(s). Functional teams are normally permanent and include members of the same department with different responsibilities. A manager is responsible for everything and everyone, and all report to him/her. The management approach is the typical top-down approach you’ll see in most companies. The foundations of any workplace are communication and trust. It’s essential to have an environment where people can work together effectively, which will lead to a flourishing culture. These teams work together to create content that matches the team’s skillset.
Cross-functional teams are made up of members with different skillsets and normally have people from different departments work together towards a common objective. They can be used for a variety of tasks that require different insights and knowledge. For instance, a team must work together to get to the best outcome. There can be some challenges when teams of people, accustomed to working separately, start collaborating for the first time. This can be solved by embracing different personalities and perspectives and approaching new projects as a team. These teams work together to create content tailored to their specific skillsets.
Project teams usually consist of people from across different departments within an organization or business. They come together to complete a specific project for their company or organization in an efficient manner. When a project is finished, the group usually dissolves. Bigger teams are formed of people who all have separate tasks in the company. However, they still have one common goal – finishing their current project.
Several factors can be holding a group back such as weak leadership, authority, blocking behaviours, free riding, evaluation apprehension, poor communication and lack of focus. These are typical factors cause poor group dynamics. They can hinder the success of projects and people’s morale, which in turn will also affect their engagement.
How Can One Improve Their Team’s Dynamics?
Teams are central to the success of any organization. Organizations should do whatever they can to improve their team’s dynamics to get the best results possible. Organizations should create a culture where employees feel valued and respected, this can be done by establishing positive relationships at work, providing ongoing training to ensure employees are fully capable of taking on new responsibilities, and providing feedback that is constructive in nature. But then not all teams are the same and each team needs may be different, an effective process can start by knowing your team. As a leader, you should know that a group’s development goes through various phases which you can either help or impede. If you don’t understand these phases, it will be difficult for you to support your group at an optimal level. These normally include problems caused by poor communication or lack of team initiative. However, team managers should know that if one of your teammates is acting in a way that’s not helpful to the group, you need to speak up quickly. To help her/him understand the effect her/his behaviour has, point out what she/he did and ask her/him what she/him thinks about it – encourage her/him to think about why this may have happened.
Another point to know is that teams without direction can quickly form negative dynamics and create confusion among group members about their role. Establishing team goals is very important. For the work to progress, you should create a top-level document that defines the primary mission of the team and everyone’s responsibilities. Make sure that all members have a copy of this document so they can refer to it when required.
It is important to find right team-building exercises for your team. Team-building exercises help everyone get to know one another, and also offer new members a gentle introduction into the group. It also helps with the problem of “the black sheep effect,” which happens when people in groups begin to stereotype and lose empathy for each other.
Communicating effectively is vital for team dynamics, so open all channels of communication. This should include emails, meetings, and shared documents, to avoid any ambiguity. It’s important to keep people up to date on any changes or announcements with your project. Notifying them right away will give them the same information as everyone else and prevent misinformation.
Make sure you are aware of the warning signs of failing team dynamics. Pay attention to cases where everyone agrees. This might be a sign of groupthink, bullying, or free riding. If this is happening in your group, explore new ways to encourage people to speak up on their own opinions.
Recommended reading about team dynamics:
- Group Dynamics and Team Interventions: Understanding and Improving Team Performance by Timothy M. Franz