The chances are, your team already works pretty well. But could it be better? 

Here’s how to find out.

Does your team get on well personally?

Interestingly, they don’t need to. Evidence suggests that if debate/ disharmony is related to the task, it can be used positively to generate discussion and solutions. If it’s personal disharmony, it’s more damaging. Steer the focus from the person to performance to stay on track with the work at hand. That being said, negativity and rudeness can transmit very readily from one exchange to another, so knock this on the head wherever you see it.

Does your team think it is effective?

Research indicates that 92% of people view teamwork as critical to success, with only 23% viewing their own team as effective. A team’s belief in its success is a predictor of its actual success. It’s easy to make assumptions about what the team thinks, but might it be useful to actually ask this question? The replies may give you some interesting insights. 

Do team members show they feel safe?

Within an FRS context this question can have slightly different connotations, but more generally, team members who feel ‘psychologically safe’ work much better together. So how do you achieve this? If team members feel that it’s safe to share their views and ideas (without criticism or ridicule); if they are confident about asking for help (without being made to feel ignorant); if they are prepared to ask questions and for feedback (with the expectation of constructive replies), they are more likely to feel psychologically safe. This leads to a better environment for feeling engaged and satisfied at work, and better performance.

Do you ask for feedback?

Asking others for their views, and considering these, even if you don’t agree, will help your team function better. Asking for feedback shows you are prepared to listen and learn, which is what you expect from your team. Admitting mistakes and taking proactive and visible steps to learn from them is also a powerful way of role modelling effective team behaviours.

Do you debrief on team as well as task performance?

You can make sure you are exploring how well the team performed by including the ‘7 C’s’ model in your discussions:

  • Capability– did you have the right mix of skills?
  • Cooperation– within the team, what were the attitudes to the task?
  • Coordination– how effective were the team’s behaviours?
  • Communications– how well was information exchanged?
  • Cognition– was there a shared understanding of roles and priorities?
  • Coaching– were team members demonstrating leadership behaviours, such as mentoring, holding others to account, providing feedback, not tolerating disrespectful behaviour?
  • Conditions– were there resourcing or other environmental impacts?

When team work works, it makes the organisation stronger and more successful. When it doesn’t, it can be a massive de-railer of everyone’s time, energy and motivation.

Team work isn’t necessary for every task, but where a group approach is needed, no team works as well as it might on day 1, and no matter how long you have been a team for, you can always develop.