What is team dynamics?

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In this blog we will discuss what team dynamics is. 

We will also explore how team dynamics impact the team, the factors that contribute to positive team dynamics, and how to build a positive team dynamic. 

What is team dynamics?

Team dynamics refer to the relationship between members of a team that encomapasses the way the team communicates, interacts, and works together to accomplish their goals as a team.

It is understood that there are various unconscious, psychological factors that influence the attitudes and performance of the team members as well as the relationship between these members of the team. 

These psychological forces that are at placem whcih impact team behaviours and performance is what is known as the team dynamics. 

If the team has a positive and healthy dynamic, it is believed that this will result in more effective performance of each member individually and as part of a team leading to better ideas and more goal accomplishments.

This is why it is important that leaders of teams also strive to understand what the team dynamics are and what can be done to faster positive dynamics. 

Team dynamics develop out of various factors. Some of them include:

  • The nature of the work that the team is entrusted with. 
  • The personalities of each member within the team.
  • The relationships and interaction with respect to work between each member
  • The environment in which the team works in. 

Team dynamics is a major factor that impacts overall team performance as well as the improvement and progress of individual members and often when the dynamics are not positive or healthy, it can lead to conflict, demotivation, and lead the team to be rendered unproductive. 

Is team dynamics and group dynamics the same?

The term team dynamic is often used interchangeably with the team group dynamics which originated with Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist.

While the word is used in place of the other, there is a key difference between the two constructs stemming from the difference between the words “group” and “team”.

The word group means that there is a social community of two or more people who have something in common whereas the word team is a special instance of a group of people brought together with a common/shared goal. 

This difference is what creates the dynamic between team members because of their common or shared goal making each member of a team dependent on each other to achieve success. For example, a football team loses or wins together as a whole. 

However, within a group, the members are not essentially dependent on each other for success. Each member of the group has their own goals and are incentives in their own individual ways. For example, a sales group will include people who are part of a sales “team” but each of these members win their own commission based on their individual sale- so then this particular “team” is more so a “group”.

So when it comes to team dynamics and group dynamics, they are similar but there are key elements that set them apart. For example, within a therapeutic group- trust becomes a major element that determines success for the group as well as the individual members themselves. 

On the other hand, for positive team dynamics, a major key element is more constructive criticism from one member to the other and the mutual understanding of shared goals rather than trust. 

The group dynamics of trust and accountability hold communities together while team dynamics of mutual understanding and feedback is what keeps the team remaining cohesive and working effectively towards their mutual goals. 

How does team dynamics impact the team?

Here are a few ways in which positive and negative team dynamics impact the team’s performance and progress.

Teams with positive team dynamics tend to work synergistically which enhance team performance marked by good communication, healthy conflict, and shared direction that in turn provides an avenue for healthy growth and progress. 

When there is a weak leadership, the team is weakened as well because of the lack of direction due to the weak leader leaving the team vulnerable to negative team dynamics like unproductive conflict. 

On the other hand when there is a team leader that encourages positive team dynamics such as trust, accountability, and open communication, the team feels supported and safe that allows them to become more committed to the team.

A positive team dynamic that fosters trust and loyalty, can lead each member to feel like they belong, leading them to stay committed, feel respected, and valued which in turn helps them remain motivated and optimistic within their team as they face challenges. 

When there is a lack of open communication and acknowledgement of each member in the team, there is the threat of groupthink to develop where some members choose to agree on one solution quickly without considering other alternatives. 

When the team dynamic includes blocking behaviours such as some mebeers being to critical of others’ opinions, not participating, excessive recognition seeking, and interrupting sessions, uncertainty or lack of direction, this can lead to roles being undefined and as a result the team are not clear with what they need to do leading to a lack of confidence within the team and the members. 

Another negative team dynamic could include the lack of psychological safety that arises when there is no openness within the team, and no avenue for assertive communication. This can lead to members feeling unmotivated and also groupthink. 

What are the factors that Contribute to Positive Team Dynamics?

The various factors that continue to positive and healthy team dynamics include:

Effective Leadership

A team with an effective leader who is involved and open is more likely to perform well. An effective leader is one who knows the people who they lead, trust them to work well, and very importantly win, are able to win the trust and commitment of the team members, 

Such leaders are also the ones who can clearly set the agenda and the goals of the group while also providing avenues for the members of the team to clearly understand and define their own roles. 

Frequent, Open Communication

A healthy team dynamic is also one that allows for frequent and open communication between members as well as between members of the team and management. 

Open communication in the sense that there are clear lines of communication in place as well as a clear process of how this communication goes through.

It also involves active listening and assertive communication that allows members to bring up challenges and conflicts and also have the space to resolve these conflicts through constructive criticisms.

Positive Relationships Between Individual Team Members 

Positive team dynamics involves relationships based on mutual trust and respect where there is open communication and open acknowledgement of each other’s ideas. 

Positive team dynamics allow for constructive criticism as well as openness to the ideas of other people, where inputs are acknowledged and valued all the while creating a space of safeness and belonging for the entire team. 

Clearly Defined Roles

Clearly defined roles and responsibility is a mark of healthy team dynamics where there is transparency and accountability within the processes of the work that is being done and the communication as well. 

This particular factor should be the priority of leaders interested in fostering positive team dynamics where the roles are defined and communicated to the team itself through open access to the plan, objectives, workflow etc.

How can you develop a positive and healthy team dynamic?

A few things that a leader or a team member can do to develop a positive and realty team dynamic includes:

Get to Know Your Team

The first thing that one can do to develop positive team dynamics is to get to know the team by observing the team as they work and as during leisure times. This means that you take note of how they communicate and solve problems together and individually. 

You can also do this by having individual interviews and open discussions with them as well as to interview other teams to understand the effectiveness of your team from an outside perspective. 

Develop and Apply Your Strategy

With the inputs you have gotten from these interviews and observations, you will need to work on building strategies that can help improve psychological environment and dynamics. 

Some of the things you can do to do this includes:

Making changes so that problems resolve quickly by observing conflicts in your team and addressing them quickly through a private conversion or through a group talk depending on the situation. 

Foster open communication with the metres by modelling assertive communication, active listening, and other forms of positive communication skills such as LEAN. 

Develop collaboration

Now, with the various strategies that you might have developed over time, get the team involved in working together or collaboration together to form this new change in team dynamics. 

This will include open discussions as to what can be done to maintain and foster healthy team dynamics with the team and the leader present. 

Help team leaders to develop

Now, another important area of improvement is leadership. Efforts must be made to help the leader improve when it comes to the team dynamics meaning that they will also have to change many things to instil psychological safety and validity of the team members to foster positive team dynamics. 

Conclusion

In this blog we will discuss what team dynamics is. 

We will also explore how team dynamics impact the team, the factors that contribute to positive team dynamics, and how to build a positive team dynamic. 

What is the importance of team dynamics?

Psychological forces that are at placem which impact team behaviours and performance is what is known as the team dynamics. 

If the team has a positive and healthy dynamic, it is believed that this will result in more effective performance of each member individually and as part of a team leading to better ideas and more goal accomplishments.

This is why it is important that leaders of teams also strive to understand what the team dynamics are and what can be done to faster positive dynamics. 

What are examples of effective team dynamics?

Examples of positive team dynamics include mutual understanding of shared goals and feedback that keeps the team remaining cohesive and working effectively towards their mutual goals. 

References

Kulakov.M.How to Manage and Improve Team Dynamics. Everhour. Retrieved on 18th Feb 2022. https://everhour.com/blog/team-dynamics/#Building_the_Ultimate_Team

Team Dynamics – How They Affect Performance. Team Technology. Retrieved on 18th Feb 2022. teamtechnology.co.uk/team/dynamics/overview/

Understanding Team Dynamics. RallyBright. Retrieved on 18th Feb 2022. rallybright.com/team-dynamics

Eudy.R. 7 Characteristics of Winning Team Dynamics. HSI. Retrieved on 18th  Feb 2022. https://www.ej4.com/blog/7-characteristics-of-winning-team-dynamics#:~:text=Team%20 dynamics%20are%20the%20 behavioural,is%20in%20meeting%20its%20goals.text=As%20the%20 team%20 leader%2C%20you,dynamics%20through%20 team%20building%20strategies.

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