We’re genetically wired to be part of a team – whether it’s a work team, a family or a sport’s team. We depend on building a team for success and happiness. So, why do we find them so difficult?
The chart gives some clues. In a team of 2 people, one connection or relationship is required. For 3 people, 3 connections are required. So far, so good. But by 5 people, the connections required double in number and increase significantly from there.
In other words, complexity grows much faster than the number of team members. Although life may be simpler in a small team (and oh, for a simple life)! small teams of 2-3 people aren’t able to deliver the best outcomes for work performance. Diversity of thinking is required for high performing teams, where there is room for ideas, interaction, stimulus, output and analysis.
What is needed is teams which can perform well in terms of speed and reach. Speed in the unrelenting technological advances that are part of the business world; and reach into the global market place.
The challenge then is to select, build and manage a team to gain best performance. Get it right and you tend to remember it forever.
Fortunately, there have been some very high performing teams that have gone before us. Research into what makes a good team reaveals some consistent findings.
- Communicate frequently: for a project team, 12 communication exchanges per hour gave optimum performance.
- Team members talk and listen in equal measure. In other words, the conversation is distributed evenly.
- They communicate informally which means half of their communication is outside formal meetings. Informal communication tends to increase performance through energy and engagement.
- They look for ideas and information outside the group and connect with multiple outside sources. The team members then bring back what they’ve learnt to the team.
- They adjust their patterns of communication using tools such as Herrmann Whole Brain Thinking to ensure that diversity of thinking patterns are valued.
And finally, size does matter. Teams of 5-9 people were found to be the optimal size.
Think about the teams that you are currently part of. How would you rate them on these criteria?