Teams! Why do some teams outperform others?
Is the nature of building great teams an exact science or is it art? Thousands of books on the topic document that it may be art rather than science due to the large amount of variables that exist from team to team. However, recent scientific research has shown that the characteristics of high performing teams, regardless of variables, may in fact be universal.
A fascinating study conducted by Professor Alex Pentland and his team at the Human Dynamic Laboratory (at MIT) has documented how precisely team’s dynamics differ and the impact such differences have on performance. Experiments involving the use of high tech monitoring equipment have captured team interaction dynamics including tone of voice, body language, whom they talk to, how often, and plenty more. Some teams were monitored for up to 6 weeks, enabling the researchers to correlate the observed dynamics with quantifiable team success measures that were already being used as the teams KPI’s.
The most successful teams consistently had the following characteristics;
- Everyone on the team talks and listens in roughly equally amounts, keeping contributions short and sweet
- Members face one another directly, and their conversations and gestures are energetic
- Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
- Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team and seek information to bring back to the team
It was interesting to note the researcher’s comments being that individual intelligence and talent were not as influential to the team’s performance as they had predicted. They concluded that the best way to build a great team was not to select members based on how smart they perceive to be, but how well they demonstrate the above characteristics and whether or not individual’s personalities within the team will facilitate an environment that will allow such characteristics to flourish.
It is important to acknowledge the influence individual personalities can have on a team’s ability to exhibit the previously mentioned traits. Identifying Individuals work preferences and the way in which they interact and relate to others is an important process of to building a successful team. Doing this will significantly increase the likelihood of creating a harmonious environment that facilitates the desired characteristics of your team being exhibited.
If you are interested in learning more about how our Team Management System profiling service can assist your company in building the perfect team, please feel free to contact us on (02) 8882 9694.