It is true that teams can be made by more than one person. But building a team capable of excellence is not easy. In the following, I would like to highlight two aspects that are repeatedly neglected when building teams.
Every company works to build the highest performing teams possible. A lot of time and money is invested in it. In my experience, there are two particularly important aspects to consider for team building to succeed. On the one hand, it concerns the so-called “team phases”, on the other, “efficiency criteria”.
Teamwork: Tuckman’s Team Phases
Bruce Tuckman was an American psychologist who researched whether there are specific stages in the development of teams. If you could identify them, you could not only understand the team’s development over time, but also predict it.
This would help to understand what problems arise at each stage and how to deal with them. Based on this question, he was able to work out four phases, which have since been known as the so-called “phase model” or “team clock”:
- formation: In this phase, team members meet, get to know each other and collect first impressions of each other.
- rioting: In this second phase, the team members now want to achieve the goals. However, coordinated behavior does not always prevail. Team members must first understand what roles they play in the team and what goals they all have in common. The attacking phase is one of the most critical phases of team development. Because this is where the first conflicts in the team arise.
- Standardization: The norming phase can be seen as a direct consequence of the “tumultuous” conflict phase. Because after the second stage, the team members will ideally have their “heads blown off” and now not only know what place they occupy in the team, but also what common and individual goals exist and how they are achieved or why they fail. achieved. In this phase, structures, standards, orderly and open ways and routine processes are consolidated.
- performance: The stage has finally been reached where team development is no longer the focus of teamwork. All of the team’s energy can now be focused on completing the actual task at hand and achieving common goals. Team structures are set up to support the achievement of goals and the people involved are fully coordinated.
“Team hours” and team building
The term “team clock” comes from the fact that the individual phases follow each other like a clock and in particular start over with each new task or each new team.
If it is understood that each team goes through these phases at least in the basics, better preparation for the respective challenges in each phase is possible. It is important to recognize that individual team members at each stage have specific needs that need to be addressed.
But what are the basic needs of team members, especially if you look at them independently of the stages? If you knew them, you would know the basics of how to offer team members a good foundation for well-being and further positive team development.
In 2012, Google asked itself this very question and surveyed 180 teams with psychologists to find patterns of good teamwork. This investigation is known as the “Aristotle Project”: As Aristotle pointed out, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and similarly, a good team is greater than the sum of the skills, knowledge, and experience of individual team members.
Teamwork: Five Effectiveness Criteria for Good Teams
That result was pretty clear, according to Google: what mattered was how team members communicated with each other. In good teams, everyone could speak impartially and we treated each other with respect. The research detailed five effectiveness criteria for good teams, with the first three being the most important:
- psychological security: This criterion shows how comfortable individual team members feel in a given team situation.
- reliability: In reliable teams, all members are committed to the team, are conscientious and take responsibility. So there is no one who is outside the whole team, everyone is involved in some way.
- structure and clarity: Individual team members are clear about what is expected of them and how they can fulfill them. You also know what short-term and long-term goals the team is working towards. So they have a clear idea of what is required of them and what the team wants to achieve.
- meaning: Do members see meaning in their own work or in its results? Without knowing why something is being done, or to paraphrase the philosopher Seneca, “without knowing the port”, there can be no focus in the team.
- Influence/Effect: After all, each team member needs to be clear about the impact of their own work. Your own individual contribution must also be somehow relevant and visible. If not every member of the team recognizes themselves in team performance, sooner or later the motivation of individual members will decrease and thus the performance of the entire team will suffer.
Therefore, if you want to build a high-performing team, it is especially important to consider these criteria and check that they are met. Because only then is there an environment in which team members feel so comfortable that they want to surpass themselves and make their individual achievements available to the team.
Conclusion: team building
I have never experienced a company not wanting a particularly high performing team. However, it is not always possible to achieve the desired performance.
It’s also because many don’t always understand how to approach team building. Both of the above aspects are starting points for me, which I have not only used in organizations such as Wirtschaftsjunioren in team training, but which I also return to again and again in connection with advising start-up teams.
First, you need to understand what stages the team goes through. Then it must also be clear what demands the team members place on the team and on their membership in the team.
Anyone who understands these two aspects can start picking up the respective team members individually in each phase. Always with the intention that they will become an important part of the whole team. This then opens up the possibility of comprehensively increasing the team’s performance.