13 May 2020

Picture credit: freepik.com

“High performing teams lead to high performing organizations” said Dr. Pradnya Parasher in the April “thought leadership meet”. The team is the molecular unit where most of the production happens, where ideas stem out and are tested, it is where we experience most of our work but it is also where interpersonal issues, lack of goal clarity, rehashing of efforts can hinder group productivity. Working together is a necessity in today’s working world and it is believed that employees can achieve more by working together than alone.

Speaking of teams, Dr. Pradnya shined a light on enormous concepts, from what teams mean to deep aspects of teams to psychological safety on teams… During the session, she also spoke about Google’s project “Aristotle” wherein the quest to finding out what constitutes an effective team, the researchers found that “what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together”

Here are some insights from Dr. Pradnya’s talk on teams…

Difference between teams and workgroups

Teams: teams are highly interdependent. They strategize, plan, discuss problems and solutions, make decisions, and execute together in service of a specific project.

Work groups: work groups are based on organizational or managerial hierarchy; they meet periodically to hear and share information and are less dependent on each other.

Types of teams and their effectiveness

  • Pseudo teams are teams where people are pretending to be a team. The members here are nice to each other but don’t generally support one another and there is passive aggressiveness towards achieving common goals.
  • Potential teams are teams where members are committed to working together as a team whereas lack focus on the hard, soft, and deep aspects.
  • Real teams are ideal teams where members work together towards a common goal. They strategize and strive for results. Manage the hard, soft, and deep aspects of the team, making it a highly effective team.

Unlocking performance potential of teams – The expanded framework for building great teams!

  • Hard aspects of teams – refers to the hard aspects such as team purpose or mission and the competencies of team members.
  • Soft aspects of teams – refers to the trust, cohesion, communication, collaboration, and fairness in the team. Most softer aspects are built during informal connects and augment team efficiency.

What are some of the challenges to be considered in the soft aspects of the team?

Explained through the “Bad Apples” spoil the barrel analogy (taken from the work of will felps) every team has a mix of slackers, Pessimists and Jerks. Slackers are people who do not carry the weight and who do not take their fair share of work on the team. Pessimists take pessimistic approach towards anything the team discusses and plans for. Jerks exhibit obnoxious behavior all around. In his study Felps also identified “positive deviants” who demonstrates empathy, listens to everybody in the team and keeps the team engaged. Hence for effective management of teams, identifying the type of players and handling creatively is an imperative.

  • Deep aspects of teams – consists of team roles, team derailers and team values.

Team Roles – Refers to the psychological roles people play on teams such as result oriented role, relationship builders, role of building and holding processes intact, innovators and lastly are people who stay in the here and now.

Team Derailers – Under stress, behavioral responses of team members can lead to team “derailers”. Some of the personalities that emerge from team derailers are moving away behaviors, moving against behaviors and moving towards behaviors.

Team Values – Refers to what motivates and drives team members. Team values drive team performance.

Considering all the aspects of teams and practicing, will become the “secret sauce” for building great teams!

Dr. Pradnya also touched upon the concept of “Psychological safety” with an example from “Amy Edmondson’s” book “teaming” where lack of psychological safety led to an unforgettable disaster and how leaders play an important role in instilling psychological safety in teams.

The insightful session on teams was followed by a “fire side” chat between the panelists. Christopher Anand shined a light on how teams have transitioned to effective virtual working and how work from home is not just seen as a “HR benefit” but as a lever to “increase productivity”, leading more organizations to adopt virtual working more than ever before. He also touched upon the forming-Storming-norming and performing model of group development by Bruce Tuckman and passed on to Pradnya with the question – How do mid-level managers manage their teams and How long does it take for building great teams?

Dr. Pradnya shared how team dynamics, team members commitment to teamwork and a leader who is aware of cultivating team productivity are paramount for success of the team. And based on how mature the teams are with the baseline DNA required for effective teams will pave the way for time needed to build great teams. The panelists also discussed how OKRs or any effective goal setting system can help achieve the hard aspects of the team and support in team development.

Increasing conscious attention to developing teams needs a conscious thought without assumption that “people may already know how to work on teams”. Teams being an entity, managers must think of the dynamics. What role they can play to instill psychological safety can be a simple step to building great teams. Christopher Anand also shared an example from his personal experience of a leader who brought in psychological safety into the team and witnessed the benefits of it first-hand!

The panel also answered interesting questions from the participants, talking about how psychometric tests may not be required to form a team, as it only matters how the team worked together more than who is on the team. Ways to tackle bad apples on teams and more…
The session was then waved off with a great quote of Michael Jordan – “Talent wins games but teamwork wins championships”.

With “424” people logged in, spotlight on teams, great conversations of panel, the event was a sparkling success!

Here are some testimonials from participants…

The session was really good, and it is forcing us to put thinking hats
Thanks for the very enriching session

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