The Slice

10 Things That Can Improve (And Hurt) Team Dynamics

July 14, 2023

Investing in positive team dynamics is something that can pay back dividends. Let's look at ten things you can do to help ensure you have the best possible team dynamics among your crew.

Something incredible can happen when a group of people comes together to work toward a shared goal. When the whole team functions like a unit composed of many vital parts, they can produce results that would have been impossible for an individual to take on.

On the other hand, though, a team that has poor dynamics can create all kinds of disastrous outcomes. Not only do they not communicate well, make more mistakes, and fail to be as productive as possible, but morale, motivation, and engagement all suffer.

Investing in positive team dynamics is something that can pay back dividends. Let's look at ten things you can do to help ensure you have the best possible team dynamics among your crew.

1. Sharing a Common Goal

Sharing a common goal is one of the most important things for cultivating healthy team dynamics.

Every team needs to understand the direction they're heading in– where the destination is that they're working to reach together.

How Goal Confusion Can Hurt Team Dynamics

Establishing shared goals is one of the first crucial steps in successful collaboration. However, when goals go unstated or vague, this can create significant challenges for the team.

If your team doesn't completely understand what they are striving for, it can mean that time is being spent in unproductive ways, and conflicts between team members are more likely.

In order to make sure that there is no confusion over what your goals are as a team, come up with a standardized protocol for goal setting. You can then break the goals down into smaller tasks and outline a workflow that will ensure you can reach your goal most efficiently.

2. Investing in Your Culture

Creating a healthy and positive workplace culture has many benefits– it helps boost engagement, reduce turnover, increase productivity, and more. The culture of your company– the shared values, attitudes, and beliefs that you all share– can also be a huge contributing factor when it comes to team dynamics.

Building and nurturing a supportive, friendly, welcoming, and positive culture will help your team feel more at ease and comfortable working together. This can provide them the space they need to get to know one another better, offer feedback, and put their ideas forward. If you want your team to succeed, make sure the culture supports them as individuals and as a group.

How an Unhealthy Culture Can Hurt Team Dynamics

Unhealthy cultures can result in all kinds of mayhem. Not only are employees negative and have very little enthusiasm for their work, but there can also be a great deal of dysfunction and role confusion. People will tend to be more stressed, more likely to gossip, and more likely to leave for a different job.

As you might imagine, this is absolutely deadly to your team dynamics. Not only will your employees likely be dreading showing up for work in the morning, but they likely won't be able to engage nearly as productively once they do get there as they could in a more supportive and positive environment.

3. Building Trust

Trust is an essential ingredient in any successful team. Trust helps create a sense of psychological safety, meaning that your team members won't be afraid to ask questions when they need clarification. It also helps to minimize miscommunication and fosters goodwill between teammates.

Beyond that, though, teams that have high levels of trust are more innovative and able to make decisions more quickly.

How a Lack of Trust Can Hurt Team Dynamics

Without trust, team members are going to struggle to really work together to achieve the goals they've set. Individuals might not feel comfortable sharing their perspectives or offering feedback during collaborative activities.

A team that doesn't trust one another will struggle against many obstacles, including increased miscommunication and conflict.

4. Creating Opportunities to Build Relationships

Your team will be much more productive and effective when they have well-established relationships with one another. In an office, this is something that tends to happen somewhat naturally over time. Co-workers might spend time together during lunch, catch up with each other as they pass by each other's cubicles, and even head to the bar after work to blow off a little steam.

When your team is remote, though, all of these organic opportunities to connect are missing. This means that the responsibility falls on the leadership to help facilitate opportunities to create strong and meaningful relationships.

Luckily, there are tons of things you can do to help bring your team closer together. In fact, this is actually kind of our specialty.

Whether you throw a virtual happy hour for your team, complete with a live DJ, or you treat them to a game of live trivia and a pizza party, your group dynamics don't have to suffer just because you manage a distributed team.

How Isolation Can Hurt Team Dynamics

When your team members feel isolated from one another, it can wreak havoc on team dynamics. Employees who don't feel they have strong relationships with their co-workers might be less likely to share ideas, information, and concerns with other team members. This can lead to a communication breakdown that seriously damages the ability to work together in an effective way.

Beyond that, it can also reduce trust between your team. This, in turn, can end up making it difficult for your team to work together as they're less likely to help each other out, share resources, or leverage the strengths of one another.

Isolation can also decrease morale and engagement, stifle creativity and innovation, and ultimately result in teams breaking down into silos.

5. Effective Communication

No matter how awesome your team is, their dynamics will suffer if the communication lines aren't fully functioning. This means having the tools you need to ensure communication can happen seamlessly while understanding the nuanced reality of effective communication.

Sometimes, communication is boiled down to the simple act of telling people what to do. The truth is, though, that each of your team members likely has their own preferred ways of communication.

In addition to creating an environment where different communication styles are valued and supported, it's also important to ensure the phone lines run both ways. Teams can start to lose morale and engagement when they feel like their voices aren't heard, so it's important to make sure there are avenues through which they can give feedback, suggest ideas, and otherwise make contributions to the team and the brand.

How Poor Communication Can Hurt Team Dynamics

Poor communication is one of those things that can absolutely destroy team dynamics.

No focus on creating effective communication can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, decreased trust, less engagement, lack of collaboration, increased conflict, and so on.

6. Strong Leadership

You can do many things to directly help improve your team dynamics by developing your employees.

At the same time, it's important to recognize just how essential having an effective and strong leader is to creating a successful team.

How Ineffective Leadership Can Hurt Team Dynamics

The precise ways that ineffective leadership can damage team dynamics will depend on the ways in which a leader is ineffective, but at the end of the day, it's never good news.

Teams that don't have strong leadership can fail to communicate effectively, lack direction and vision, and fall apart as individuals start to look for work elsewhere.

7. Tackling Conflicts Head On

When you're managing a team, and it's clear there's a conflict emerging, it can be tempting to just hope it goes away. After all, it can be uncomfortable, difficult, and stressful to bring it out into the open.

The truth is, though, that it will only be to the detriment of your team if you avoid and ignore conflicts. When little arguments are allowed to fester in the shade, they tend to grow into much larger, much more problematic issues.

Conflict resolution is a whole field in itself, and you might find that different approaches work best depending on the situation and parties involved. One of the skills you'll want to master as a leader is the ability to understand what type of intervention is required in a given situation.

Though it might sound like something that would hurt team dynamics, going full circle as a team, from initiating the conflict to the resolution, can really bring everyone together.

How Avoiding Conflicts Can Hurt Team Dynamics

When conflicts linger, it can have a seriously detrimental effect on team dynamics. You might find that communication starts to break down, resentment floats through the air, trust is at an all-time low, and old, unresolved conflicts blow up into much larger confrontations.

For this reason, developing conflict resolution skills is essential for any team. While it's important to learn how to deal with conflict as a leader, you don't want to take the whole burden on your shoulders. Instead, consider incorporating some conflict resolution exercises into your training and professional development workshops to help everyone get a bit of practice.

8. Sharing the Workload

Another essential component of positive team dynamics is that everyone is pulling their weight.

Leaders can help ensure there isn't any imbalance in the workload by rewarding hard workers and communicating with people who aren't putting in as much effort.

How Not Sharing the Workload Can Hurt Team Dynamics

There are few things that will stress group dynamics more than an imbalance in effort.

When some people put their all into their work while others receive the same benefits and rewards while phoning it in, it will almost certainly create some tension.

9. Defining Roles and Responsibilities

Successful teams don't just have shared goals that they're working toward.

They also have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities that are expected of each of them.

How Unclear Roles and Responsibilities Can Hurt Team Dynamics

It's amazing just how quickly things can start to fall apart when no one is sure who is supposed to do what. This is precisely how teams can start to break down– one person expects a task to fall onto the plate of their co-worker, who, in turn, assumes it would be their responsibility.

You probably don't have to do too much imaginative visualization to see how damaging this could be to the team and the company.

10. Staying On Your Toes

Finally, another essential ingredient in positive group dynamics is making sure that you pay attention and keep an eye out for the warning signs of poor group dynamics.

It's easy to start getting comfortable when it seems like everything is going well. However, as responsibilities change, team members leave, and new team members come aboard, the environment can start to shift ever so slightly.

How Failing to Be Attentive Can Hurt Team Dynamics

Like most things in life, correcting a problem with your team dynamics is much easier and more painless if you catch it early. If you wake up one day and realize that your team dynamics are shot, it likely means that you've missed a lot of warning signs along the way.

Staying attentive even when it seems like everything is going swell can ensure that you can correct course quickly and without incident.

Is It Time to Team Build?

When you're driven to create a positive and high-performing team environment, investing in creating positive team dynamics is a must. You'll find that strong team dynamics are practically like a silver bullet when it comes to delivering successful outcomes through fostering productivity, collaboration, engagement, and innovation.

Whether your team has been working together for years or you're managing a group of new hires, scheduling time for them to get to know each other better can be invaluable. This is all the more important when your team works remotely since they don't have natural opportunities throughout the day to chat with their co-workers.

If you're ready to start building a stronger team with healthier dynamics, you're in the right place! At PizzaTime, we specialize in virtual experiences and catering for remote teams all across the globe.

Whether you want to throw a pizza party or a lunch meeting, get the crew together for a live stand-up comic or a virtual escape room, or simply treat everyone to a delightful happy hour, we'll make it happen.

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