How to Create the Perfect Team
The elusive “perfect team”, does is even exist? Perhaps not, but there are definitely teams that consistently out perform and come really close. What makes them different?
We see organizations investing in Management courses which can be valuable, in that they teach us how to create the perfect team, yet, many individuals in corporate teams feel a lack of connection. Unfortunately, when an employee feels disconnected or undervalued, they will underperform or lack loyalty – two crucial aspects of a productive, high performing team. Perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing boards to assess what we have known for many years, and look for the missing element.
Google did a two-year long study following 180 teams, and found five aspects that – according to them – created a well-functioning, successful team:
- Structure and clarity
- and Psychological safety
None of this is really news. In fact, I would argue what really makes a perfect team, lies a layer below these findings. Of course a leader should encourage ideas, and it’s common sense that a high performing team would consist of dependable team members. But what lies beneath the surface? What helps those team members to become dependable?
Perfect Teams Share an Emotional Connection
When managers help to connect and bond teams and encourage personal relationships, the team becomes invested in the success of each individual and in that of the team. This accounts for dependability.
So how does one create dependability within a team? As the Google study suggests, it comes from a place of psychological safety. Sadly, one poor manager can destroy psychological safety and it takes more than one great manager to create it.
What is Dependability?
When a person does their job for fear of losing it, they are dependable. A person who does their job to be rewarded with achievement or recognition, is also fairly dependable. However, it takes more than a group of fearful and ambitious people to create a high-performing team.
The employees in the example above are egocentrically focused, which means that they will ultimately act in their own best interest. They will do what they can to present themselves in the best light possible, which might negatively impact the overall performance goal. I’m sure we all know that one teammate that would happily ‘throw us under the bus’ to make themselves look good.
However, positively dependent teams have understanding and empathy for one another. Individuals are much more inclined to step in to help struggling team members. Not only do they care about the performance goal, but they truly want to support their teammate through a tough time. This is the kind of dependability a manager can count on within the perfect team.
Dependability & Psychological Safety in the Workplace
In the article on Google’s research, author Michael Schneider also merely scrapes the surface in his definition of psychological safety when he writes, ” A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard. That’s psychological safety.”
Psychological safety should be encouraged by the management, indeed, but a fantastic manager cannot carry the can alone.
People certainly care about their boss’ perceptions of them, but they also don’t want to be judged by their peers. Therefore, it is important for managers to create a culture of openness and non-judgmental sharing. Creating emotional connections and strong team bonds is what will make the biggest difference in creating a culture of psychological safety.
Authentic team relationships can change the work environment from one of every-man-for-himself to an all-for-one-and-one-for-all mentality. When co-workers view the team as friends, their ideas are supported with people they trust – people who will support them, rather than look for ways to one-up or tear them down.
Building the Perfect Team: The Crux
By embracing the idea that the best teams are not about all work and no play, managers can transform the company culture and optimize returns on investment. For a brief moment, set aside the objectives and performance goals, and focus on the people – both the team and the individuals.
Invest in providing opportunities for teams to be vulnerable, have fun, and get to know one another on a deeper level. That investment will pay dividends by delivering a team that is committed to each other, the organization, and the goal. You’ll not only see improvements in performance, but also a significant reduction in staff turnover and both of those metrics are money in the bank.
Here at Dreamwinds, we provide equine assisted learning, which has been proven to forge deeper connections and improved communication within teams.
We encourage corporate team managers and leaders to choose an off-site event that isn’t just about play, but is structured in a way that expands thinking, encourages self-reflection and provides an opportunity for team members to gain an understanding of each other – how they tick, communication styles etc. With understanding comes connection and that’s what really sets us apart. Our objective based exercises are structured to bring out these traits and lessons in a fun and engaging way.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our team building and youth leadership programmes, or find out how you can become a Certified EAL Facilitator.