6 strategies for managing and improving team dynamics

  • DeakinCo.
  • 8 December 2017

Team dynamics are critical for organisational success. Without positive team dynamics, your business can’t fully leverage the potential of your employees and tap into their skills and experience. So what are team dynamics and how can you manage and improve your team’s performance through enhanced dynamics? No two teams are exactly the same, so improving team dynamics starts with identifying any issues and formulating a tailored strategy for your team.

What are team dynamics?

A team can be defined as two or more people working together to interdependently to meet a specific goal or purpose. Outside of this, a team can be for the long term or come together for a few hours. Group dynamics can be understood as how team member’s distinct roles and behaviours impact other group members and the group as a whole. Team dynamics are therefore the unconscious, psychological factors that influence the direction of a team’s behaviour and performance.

What do positive group dynamics look like?

A team with positive group dynamics tend to have team members who trust each other. They can work towards collective decisions and they are held accountable for outcomes. A team with good group dynamics may be constructive and productive, and it may demonstrate mutual understanding and self-corrective behaviour. On the other hand, poor group dynamics can be disruptive for successful decision making and work outcomes.

Group dynamics matter because they impact things like creativity, productivity and effectiveness. Since group work is integral to organisations, for business leaders, addressing group dynamics can lead to better work outcomes, customer satisfaction and an improved bottom line.

Strategies for boosting team dynamics

1. Conduct a diagnosis and get to know your team

Conduct a diagnosis of what is going wrong in your team by doing a team health check. Observe your team at work and conduct individual interviews in a private, safe and confidential space. Talk to other relevant people, such as customers and line managers, to find out as much as you can about your team’s problems.

As you do, stay aware of the common causes behind poor group dynamics.

●    Weak leadership – Weak leadership, where the team lacks a strong leader, can pave the way for a dominant team member to take over, resulting in a lack of direction and conflict.

●    Authority and groupthink – Excessive deference to authority can have a stagnating effect of teams as people would rather agree with the leader than offering innovative ideas and opinions. Groupthink can have a similar effect.

●    Blocking behaviours – Aggressive, negative, withdrawing, recognition-seeking and even joking behaviours can block the flow of information in the team.

●    Free riding – Some team members taking it easy at the expense of other colleagues can lead to poor group dynamics and outcomes.

●    Evaluation apprehension – Team members may hold back their opinions and ideas as result of feeling they are being judged harshly by other team members.

Other potential causes of poor group dynamics include poor communication and a lack of focus. Take time to observe, talk to team members and figure out what is happening amongst the team.

2. Address problems quickly

If you see a team member engaging in unhelpful behaviour, work to address it quickly. Speak to the team member directly and invite him or her to reflect on the behaviour and how it can be changed to support the team’s goals. Conflicts can happen from time to time – even in the healthiest of teams – so encourage open discussion of the conflict and help guide team members to a resolution, allowing your team to return to a state of positive group dynamics.

3. Create a team charter

Teams and individual team members need a strong focus to thrive. If you create a team charter and offer clearly defined roles, you could motivate team members to address their responsibilities and work together more effectively. A clear charter also helps you set clear behavioural and outcomes expectations. It gives you standards by which you can hold underperforming team members to account.

4. Enhance team culture

Deliberately build a supportive team culture. Use team-building exercises to encourage stronger relationships between individual team members. Create a workplace that supports employee well-being, success and enthusiasm for work. Value diversity and think about how you can build trust and respect among team members. Support open communication, sharing of ideas through an inclusive work culture.

5. Build communication

Give your team tools to drive open communication and encourage team members to communicate clearly to each other. Keep team members updated about project changes and news, and they will feel included and alerted to what is going on. Make sure both opinionated and quieter team members feel their voices are heard.

6. Always pay attention

As  part of the organisation’s leadership, you should always be paying attention to your team and know what is going on. Look out for unacceptable behaviours such as bullying, groupthink and freeriding so you are ready to address them right away. Reinforce positive behaviours like successful collaboration, sharing of ideas, trust and respect.

Excellent group dynamics can facilitate employee productivity and satisfaction while allowing your teams to reach their set targets on time. However, teams with excellent dynamics still require ongoing observation, correction and guidance, so be prepared to continue providing your team with the leadership and training they need to thrive.

DeakinCo. offers tailored workforce solutions to help your business master the shift from knowledge to capability and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. To find out more about what we can do for your organisation, contact us today.