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Why disruptive teams are better...

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If you keep team membership constant, people in the team are going to grow familiar, they'll feel more comfortable, they'll be more supportive, morale will rise and surely all this is a guaranteed recipe for success?

Not according to Charlan Nemeth and Margaret Ormiston, who've shown that stable teams are judged more friendly and comfortable than newly-formed teams.

Their research suggest the cost of failing to mix up team membership and not putting together a disruptive team is a loss of creativity, problem solving and performance.

"A disruptive team = a mix of strong personalities, expertise and experience 
combined to provide outstanding performance

They looked at 41 teams and how they problem solved. The teams were given 15 minutes to create new ways to boost tourism in the San Francisco Bay area or ways to decrease traffic congestion.

They then split the teams and mixed them up, so half the membership worked with people they had not worked with before and the other half continued to work with the same people they worked with before (stable teams).

Afterwards, members of the stable teams reported feeling their groups were more creative, friendlier and more comfortable than did the members of the newly-formed teams.

But crucially, it was the newly-formed teams who generated more ideas (an average of 28 ideas versus 23), and according to independent judges their ideas were also better quality and more diverse.

The researchers said "The current study underscores the theory that 'change' and the introduction of new perspectives are more important than comfort, belonging and friendliness for idea generation and creativity".

Managers should avoid the temptation to retain individuals in groups that have previously worked well together, they added. "Teaming individuals who have not previously worked together, may better benefit the creative process".

The EBW View

Whilst we would not disagree with these findings "real life” research using the EBWt Team assessment and EQ maps suggests that the factor that should not be ignored when developing disruptive teams is developing team resilience.

"Why disruptive teams fail while performing better"

While disruptive teams are great in terms of creativity, problem solving and high performance. Recomposition of team membership to configure a disruptive team that has those high performing attributes can lead to interpersonal conflict, which can limit the very high performance you want to achieve.   

Teams who do not have an effective strategy for coping with difficult situations and team dymnamics in the short and longer term will not perform well.

For teams to be successful, they need not only to understand and be aware of the team's stress factors, but how each team member manages their emotions and behaviours within the team.

For the most part, introducing new talent to the group can ensure that the team does not go stale, but the key to developing successful, disruptive teams is being able to predict and quickly develop the factors that are inhibitors and activators to effective team performance.

To find out how we use EQ Maps to coach leaders and disruptive teams that are resilient, work well together and deliver on their goals click here


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The EBW Global Emotional Intelligence System is a unique assessment and development tool for Managers, Executive Coaches, HR experts and Psychologists.

Based on over 20 years of worldwide use and research, it enables you to get leaders and teams to understand why they behave the way they do and use a highly effective 10 step framework to improve their occupational performance.

With a practitioner's network based on 6 continents, all of whom are licensed to use the EBW System, we guarantee the EBW Emotional Intelligence approach empowers leaders and teams to transform themselves and their organisations. 


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