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How Team Dynamics Influences Team Performance









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Let's imagine you are starting a new position as a manager or a leader and you’re working to rally your team/board for a new project.

But you know your title alone won’t be enough to inspire and influence people to provide great results, how do you influence your team?

Influencing is not just an issue for new leaders every member of an organisation will, sooner or later, have to inspire and influence others to get them to commit to a course of action. For example, you might need to ask a peer in another team for help to successfully complete a project.

But we know (as we have all probably felt it at some time in our careers) when someone tries to influence you in the wrong way, it creates resentment and resistance rather than commitment. It creates obstacles that make it difficult to achieve both short and long-term objectives.  

Fortunately, there is lots of research that describes the best methods to inspire and influence (see Yuki & Tracey 1992 review below).


But when you are working to inspire and influence a team, things are different. Research suggests successful leaders need to consider the team dynamics because understanding team dynamics helps you know when your leadership style of influence will have a positive outcome. 

Team dynamics are the group processes that are affected by each member's internal thoughts and feelings, their expressed thoughts
and feelings, their nonverbal communication, and the good or poor relationship between team members etc. 

Research by Yohsuke Ohtsubo (Nara University, Japan) and colleagues show how team dynamic can impact on your ability to influence others (such as on board or jury) where either there needs to be unanimity (every member had to agree) or you need a majority (only 4/6 members had to agree).

Using simulation research methodology, they had two hundred and eighty-two volunteers read a case history concerning a hospital accused of malpractice. 

The volunteers indicated privately how much money they thought the hospital should be fined, before being arranged into 47 teams of six.

The researchers made sure, each team contained two volunteers who had suggested either particularly harsh, or lenient sentencing for the hospital. 

Each of these teams, then deliberated for 20 minutes before agreeing on how much the hospital should be fined. 

Half the teams were tasked with deciding according to the unanimity rule (every member had to agree) and the other half according to the majority rule (only 4/6 members had to agree).

The Results
The researchers found that team members with extreme preferences had significantly more influence when their team was operating according to the unanimity rule. 

By contrast, the majority rule appeared to allow such extreme preferences to be ignored by the rest of the team.

"Such systematic effects of team decision rules on team decisions have rarely been reported" the authors said.

The EBW View 

The research points to the importance of leaders understanding how their team and board dynamics work to ensure they can inspire and influence team members to work together more effectively.

Here are our 6 simple tips to start understanding your team/board dynamics to inspire and influence.

Understand That It Takes Time
Be prepared to do the work required to inspire and gain influence. Yes, your team may follow because they have to, but that’s not going to create a successful environment. What you’re looking for is the buy-in. You want your team to follow you because they want to, and that’s about trust. And building trust and influence takes time.

Make It Personal
It’s important that you meet with each member of your team regularly to understand what drives them. What are they about? What has changed for them recently?  Why do they want to be part of the team? What are their ideas are for the team? We know this is going to take time and you may be tempted to skip this step, but you shouldn't.

Hear And Respond
After meeting with team members and asking to hear their views and ideas, the next thing you want to do is to show that you have listened. Implement the easiest ideas first and then work on the more difficult ones later. This creates buy in and trust.

Have a Devil’s Advocate
Assign a person in meetings with taking the less popular side of an issue (or to challenge you) to help guard against mindless conformity.

Arrange For The Advance Collection Of Opinions.
Asking for input in advance often counters the tendency of a group to reach more extreme positions and stops team members feeling emotionally hijacked when they are presented with an idea they don't like, or they really like.

Open Communication Processes
Ensure people who disagree with an action but are afraid to say so can use back channels to communicate their concern.

Nobody can put an end to team dynamics, but leaders that actively focus on understanding and putting in structures in place to work with them and influence them will have teams and boards that are better performers, than those that fail to do so. 

EBW Global provide Team Assessments, Programmes and Workshops that help you clarify your goals, focus efforts on the right people and select the most appropriate influencing tactics. Our programmes focus on operating at a deeper level of attitudes and emotions that underpin behaviour so leaders and teams can improve how they work together. 

Our Team Programmes and Workshops can be found here 

 

Ohtsubo, Y., Miller, C.E., Hayashi, N. &  Masuchi, A. (2004). Effects of group decision rules on decisions involving continuous alternatives: the unanimity rule and extreme decisions in mock civil juries. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 320-331.

 


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