Guest post: Martin Reed, CEO, Thomas International
No matter how large or small, every company depends on the success or failure of the people within it. The reassurance that employees can work well together and function as a cohesive unit is essential for any business, but how can you ensure your teams are functioning as effectively as they could be? And when morale flags, how do you reinvigorate and regroup them? The answer lies in understanding why most teams fail, and how to address those issues.
Unbalanced mix of work styles
One of the most crucial factors in determining how well a team works together is the mix of behaviours and skills inherent in the employees that make up the team. The combination of these behaviours will contribute massively to whether they ‘flow’ or whether working together is an uphill struggle. A well balanced team involves people whose experience, skills, perspective, interests and contributions complement one another, rather than duplicate or counteract each other. Most managers trying to create a collaborative unit don’t realise that there is a more productive alternative to throwing together a group of individuals and simply hoping that they get on. Psychometric assessment can help you identify different behavioural styles and match them with other complementary styles to ensure you have the right mix of qualities within the group. Thinking ahead to consider what kind of team you want to create and what types of people you need in it can be invaluable in making sure you get a balanced mix of people who will lead, follow, create, plan and deliver.
If your team is already formed, profiling the behavioural styles of the employees within it and either restructuring the team to enable complementary behaviours to work together in a different way, or adding an individual who exhibits one of the behaviours your current team is missing, can rejuvenate and reinvigorate the existing team. For example, a team of people with high Dominance or Influence trait who are likely to be competitive and influential may benefit from the addition of team members who are stronger in Steadiness or Compliance which entails being systematic and persistent, to keep a project on track.
Lack of understanding
Teams fail because of a combination of mismatched needs, unresolved conflict, personality clashes and lack of trust. All these can be addressed through understanding and recognising how each person in the team behaves and responds in different situations.
By encouraging open and honest communication among team members to generate understanding, a more tolerant approach to other team members’ working behaviours can be achieved. For example, in a typical team there will be people who are systematic careful and precise, as well as people who are assertive, driven and goal orientated. These different work styles can ‘rub each other up the wrong way’ without awareness and an understanding that differences aren’t good or bad, better or worse – just different. Team members often lean towards functioning as individuals when, in practice, successful teams are those who have an awareness of their own individual strengths and limitations and also appreciate the dynamic of the team as a whole. Each member must recognise their own limitations and recognise that there are people on the team who have valuable skills different to their own.
Losing focus or motivation
A lack of motivation or a loss of focus under pressure is common in teams without a clear goal or vision and a manager who helps to maintain it. An effective leader or manager needs to create a clear and compelling vision for their team, and tailor that vision to ensure it fits the behavioural styles of the people that make up the team. In order to do that, a leader needs to understand their teams’ natural communication style, how they like to work and where their motivation comes from. Psychometric assessment can provide detailed insight into what drives employees. For example, some teams will be motivated by praise, power, influence or recognition amongst their peers, whereas other teams will thrive on measurable goals, benchmarks and figures.
Good teamwork is vital in helping any business achieve its objectives and, by being aware of the main reasons why teams fail, employers can ensure their own teams are focused, committed and performing to the best of their abilities. By taking the time to think more strategically about their teams, the different behavioural styles that contribute to them and how to motivate employees, companies can regroup and reinvigorate their teams, ensuring the future success of their business.
Find out more about Thomas International at: www.thomasinternational.net