Have you ever heard a leader refer to you and the people you work with as a “team” when it just didn’t feel right? Professionals in these organizations look to the people around them and, while they may personally like them, there is a feeling of disconnectedness on a professional level. This disconnect often comes from the fact that many of these so-called “teams” are, in fact, groups.
group, noun, often attributive | \ ‘ grüp\ : a number of people or things that are located, gathered, or classed together
team, noun, | \ˈtēm\: a group of people linked in a common purpose
In our study of organizations large and small throughout the U.S., this employee disconnect happens most often in under-performing organizations that measure up as mediocre or falling behind when compared to their industry peers. The environment feels threatening to the employees and there is an underlying concern about each individual’s future with the organization.
In the high performing organization, the development and health of the team is prevalent. Individuals act in a collaborative and mutually supportive way to achieve common goals without a threat to each other’s well-being. Information flows freely and people know their role as it relates to the team’s objectives. Common rituals are established and are respected as a means to unite.
How do you turn a “group” into a high performing “team”? According to the authors of Organizational Behavior v2.0*, here are some ways:
- Align the group with the greater organization.
- Let members have choices in setting their own goals.
- Define clear roles.
- Situate group members in close proximity to each other.
- Give frequent praise.
- Treat all members with dignity and respect.
- Celebrate differences.
- Establish common rituals.
Think about a baseball team – the home run – the team members surrounding the plate and celebrating together. The win of the individual is the win for the team. It’s part of the culture of their organizations – everyone has fun, everyone celebrates the wins – and by celebrating together, publicly, the audience feels their excitement and like they are part of the team.
*Tayla Bauer, Berrin Erdogan, Organizational Behavior v2.0, Flatworld Education, 2015.