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29 Simple Strategies On How To Improve Team Dynamics

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

When I work with leaders, the specific goal is often to take group work and turn it to the right direction. Whether it's remote workers in different time zones, or in person in an office, groups of people become teams when the team’s dynamics move from poor decisions to high-performance.

Here are 29 simple strategies on how to improve team dynamics.

1. Hire the right people

When assembling a team, it is important to hire individuals who will work well together. Use Patrick Lencioni's three traits of an Ideal Team Player. Hire people who are Humble, Hungry and People Smart.

Positive dynamics are easy when you have great people. When you have toxic people on your team, positive team dynamics are an uphill battle.

2. Meet often

Regular meetings are key to a successful team. Have four types of meetings with your team.

A daily check-in focused on admin, red flags and schedules. A weekly tactical meeting to put out fires. Adhoc strategic meetings for anything that takes longer than 15 minutes to solve.

And a quarterly offsite for two days to discuss high-level topics such as people or a team charter. The fastest way leaders can build high-performing teams is by investing in time offsite together.

3. Set clear expectations

Setting clear expectations for team members early on will set your team up for success. Define their roles and responsibilities. Make sure they understand the team's goals and how they are to contribute.

Make a conversation about expectations the first step for every new team member. Choose to be a strong leader. Leadership always involves difficult conversations.

Having the difficult conversation at the start is the best way to avoid big conflict down the track.

4. Celebrate successes

A little recognition can go a long way. Celebrating team members will boost morale and strengthen team dynamics. Start writing notes to thank people for behaviours. Focus on behaviours core to your organization.

Make sure you don't reward negative behaviors or reinforce a negative dynamic. Take a closer look at members of the team and create a next step for yourself to start rewarding more positive behavior.

5. Use a real-time agenda in meetings

A real-time agenda transforms boring meetings. Start your regular team meeting by reviewing your shared goal.

Use the question, "What's Most Important, Right Now?" Colour code the sub-goals for the shared goal. Focus the meeting on addressing the areas that are stuck or need improvement.

A real-time agenda avoids unnecessary presentations. It allows space to discuss better ideas, to hear diverse perspectives and foster successful collaboration.

6. Create shared goals by asking, "What's most important, right now?"

As mentioned in the previous this point, this question transforms team meetings. Run a session with your team where you debate what the top priority is for your team, right now.

Then, break down the top priority into sub goals. Use the top priority and sub goals as team goals for every meeting. If you want to be an effective team, you need to be able to answer the question, "What's your team's top priority?"

If you can't answer that question right now then that's the first thing I'd do to counter poor team dynamics.

7. Go offsite with your team once a quarter

Offsites provide an opportunity for team members to get to know each other better. Team dynamics are built on the foundation of relationship. Plan a two day offsite with time for unstructured discussions about people, vision and strategy.

Successful teams do their best work at offsites. The team building at an offsite is where the entire team can do the team work to make the dream work.

8. Use the personal histories team-building exercise with your team

This exercise can help team members understand each other better and develop relationships. Ask everyone to lean in and to be vulnerable. As the leader, step out, be vulnerable and go first.

Go around your team and ask everyone to share:

  • Where they were born

  • How many siblings they have

  • Where they come in the order of siblings and

  • One unique or difficult challenge they faced as a child

There are lots of great team-building exercises that work well in a group setting. I find focusing on important topics, having people score themselves or others, moving people physically around the room and creating space for unstructured discussion always improves team culture.

9. Ask your team members to individually reflect on the team cohesion

To build your team's dynamics, start small and slow. Ask your team members to self-reflect on their role as a team member. Get everyone to share this with the team.

This type of employee engagement takes a group of people and turns them into a high performance team.

Do you want to build a high-performance team?

Download my Masterclass:

23 Easy Team Building Tips, Tricks and Tools Every Leader Needs To Know

Click Here to download the masterclass and start watching it immediately (even if it's 2am in the morning!)

10. Leverage peer-to-peer accountability

Peer-to-peer accountability is more powerful than leader accountability. Championship winning team members hold each other accountable.

Create peer-to-peer accountability through your meetings. Make a space for people to share honestly how they're going. Encourage team members to encourage and give feedback to each other.

In my opinion, peer-to-peer accountability is the key to maintain team effectiveness.

11. Improve how your team handles conflict resolution

When your team handles conflict resolution well, you'll avoid imploding. There are two extremes of conflict resolution.

Some teams ignore conflict. Others address it rudely. Find a happy medium and walk the tightrope of healthy conflict.

Good group dynamics around conflict don't happen overnight. An employee who's only ever been an individual contributor will unconsciously be used to poor dynamics.

Open up conversations about conflict to create a mutual understanding about how your team will approach conflict.

12. Have a bottom line KPI for the whole team and for each team member

Specific goals create momentum. Give each team member a KPI to focus on. Ask them to report back to the team on their number.

Do the same for the whole team. Report back to the team on their performance. Keep that KPI front and centre.

Strong team dynamics are built on clarity. Poor communication and poor group dynamics are found where there's ambiguity.

Fight against a lack of direction by clarifying KPIs.

13. Create and maintain a cadence of accountability

A cadence of accountability lifts the standard of the team. Create a cadence by starting and ending every meeting the same way.

End every meeting by asking team members to verbally list their action steps to move forward. Write these down and email them to the team immediately. Start every meeting by reviewing this email.

Ask team members to verbally report on what progress they've made on their action steps from the last meeting. Any action steps unfinished are added to the new email for that week.

When you allow your team to experience the cadence of accountability, you're giving them one of the most valuable leadership skills. The cadence creates an easy environment for communication skills to flourish to.

It's a good thing when team development becomes a part of every meeting.

14. Create team-level vision, values and strategic anchors

Clear vision, values and strategic anchors improves team dynamics. If your team is the executive team or board, focus on your organization's vision, values and strategic anchors.

If your team is not the executive team or board, take the top level vision, values and strategic anchors and discuss them as a team. Create a one-pager of your team's interpretation.

Have this one-pager in front of the team in every meeting. If no top level vision, values and strategic anchors exist, create your own for your team from scratch.

15. Improve how you communicate

When team members communicate effectively, it helps to improve team dynamics. Lead by example and work on your communication.

Aim to speak and write at a grade 3 level. Communicate clear and early. If in doubt, over-communicate.

16. Ruthlessly create and maintain an open dialogue in all team meetings

Open dialogue is when team members can say what they really think and how they really feel. Create an atmosphere of open dialogue by going there yourself.

Encourage others to give you direct feedback in meetings. Encourage them for giving you feedback and never shut people down.

17. Train up team members in effective communication

When team members communicate well, it improves team dynamics. Work with your team on how to improve communication with each other.

Track communication and reflect on it in team meetings to benchmark how you're going. Ask team members to share any preferences for how they like others to communicate with them.

18. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety through vulnerability

When team members feel safe to express themselves, you can have robust discussions. You'll avoid artificial harmony and ambiguity.

Ask team members in one-on-ones to share how safe they feel in the team context. Find any common red flags in the team and deal with them head-on.

19. Hold social loafing to account

Social loafing is the phenomenon where team members do not put in their full effort when working together on a task. This can often lead to conflict and decreased productivity.

Championship winning teams don't have social loafers. Make everyone's efforts transparent for the team. Clearly articulate the common goal.

Step up and be a good leader by holding people to account. Do accountability at an individual level. But also do it publicly if they're not pulling their weight.

If you don't, your social loafers will set up shop permanently. And your best people will go and find a different team.

20. Learn about different personalities

When team members understand the different personality types, it can help to improve team dynamics. Do a DISC assessment for each team member. Ask each person to pick three key findings from their assessment. Have them share with the team.

Other personality assessments I recommend including StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, Working Genius and Myers Briggs.

21. Coach individual team members in your one-on-ones

Some team members need more guidance than others. All team members will benefit from coaching.

Change your mindset about all individual and team meetings. Coach your people by spending more time listening than talking. Stop telling people what to do and ask them questions, instead.

Do you want to build a high-performance team?

Download my Masterclass:

23 Easy Team Building Tips, Tricks and Tools Every Leader Needs To Know

Click Here to download the masterclass and start watching it immediately (even if it's 2am in the morning!)

22. Leader goes first

A team will never go higher than its leader. The leader is the ceiling.

If you're the team leader, you need to go first. Your group members will look to you for guidance. Foster positive group dynamics by stepping into vulnerability and accountability head-on.

If you find open communication uncomfortable, don't worry. It's always uncomfortable creating high performing teams.

23. Foster innovation

Championship winning team players want to be part of a team that breaks new ground. Good team dynamics create space for innovative ideas.

Have brainstorming sessions where no new ideas or new ways to do things are shot down. Embrace experimentation and data as a team. You'll see team performance increase.

24. Use Social psychologist Kurt Lewin's principles of change

Kurt Lewin developed the principle of inertia, the principle of substitution and the principle of momentum. Successful team dynamics in different teams happens at a different speed.

Your specific task is to build social cohesion. Create a well-oiled machine with unstoppable momentum.

25. Avoid weak leadership

An effective leader will have a history of different roles. The biggest negative impact you can have on your team is to be a leader who displays excessive deference.

Excessive deference can often lead to team members not feeling heard and respected. This can often lead to disharmony in the team.

Championship winning teams don't have excessive deference. They have a culture of mutual respect. When someone has something to say, they say it. And they listen to what others have to say.

Create this culture of mutual respect in your team by holding people accountable to their actions and words. Encourage everyone to give their best individual effort and team efforts, and praise them when they do.

26. Disagree and commit

Intel created the Disagree and Commit (D&C) philosophy. This means that when team members disagree on a course of action, they would commit to taking action together.

They wouldn't let their disagreements paralyze them. When I facilitate an offsite for a team, this always comes up months later as one of the biggest takeaways.

Help your team members learn to disagree with each other... and commit.

27. Which team is your number one team?

The other key takeaway for most of the leaders I work with is the idea of number one team. Ask your team the next time you're together to think about which team is their number one team.

If you're a small business you may be the only team! If so, approach it a little differently. For everyone else, you'll see most people doing the maths. They'll know you want them to say the team they're in is the number one team.

Not the team they lead.

This is the breakthrough. It's counter-intuitive, but our number one team should be the team we're a part of, not the team we're leading beneath that.

28. Invest in good relationships between you, team members and each member of the team

When team members feel appreciated and supported, it can help to improve team dynamics. Build strong relationships by spending time with your team members.

Leaders underestimate the power of time. In a parenting context, I've heard the saying, "Love is spelled T-I-M-E." It's the same in leadership.

If you want to build connection, it will take time. This is why meetings are your best tools. Use meetings as a context for your team to spend time together.

29. Get a mentor

You can't take people somewhere you've never been. The only way to learn how to get to the destination of quality team dynamics is by trial and error after error after error.

Or... get a mentor who's been there before. Find someone who you know has led a high-performance team. It needs to be a team that was truly high quality. Note: this is rare.

Ask to shout them a coffee and seek their advice. You'll be amazed how many high profile people are interested in giving back. That's how I found my mentor for consulting. I just asked!

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're leading volunteers or a group of business leaders. Or even if you're an individual member of a team.

Improving team dynamics will lead to higher customer satisfaction. But your team will also be more satisfied. You'll get better results and will keep your best people for longer.

Do you want to build a high-performance team?

Download my Masterclass:

23 Easy Team Building Tips, Tricks and Tools Every Leader Needs To Know

Click Here to download the masterclass and start watching it immediately (even if it's 2am in the morning!)

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