Teamwork Pulse Points

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
The old model of teamwork identified star performers, promoted them and rewarded them. Even if someone left a trail of destruction but got the desired results, they were viewed as stars. But in today’s complex world, it’s difficult for just one person to have a complete vision. Increasingly, performance is explained by our capability to work with others to solve problems and create synergies among multiple talents.

The strength of a real team is greater than the sum of the individuals. For this reason, companies have started considering that individual evaluations aren’t enough anymore. If we want real collaboration, we need to change the way we support and evaluate performance, so both are shared. HOW results are achieved becomes essential – individuals are responsible not just for personal objectives, but for creating the conditions where the group excels.

As in the case for motivation, there are also three pulse points to increase teamwork.

1. Divergence

Having ‘divergent’ people around the table may help us to exit from known patterns.Even listening to different ideas can help the leader and group by sparking new neural synapses that can lead to different solutions. The term ‘divergent’ is beyond diverse, it’s about engaging multiple perspectives and style – from age, gender,ethnicity, experience and brain style. This range helps us to face challenges with more capability, to understand the complexity of the situation, and produce original or breakthrough solutions.

It is more comfortable to be with people who are ‘like you’ but working with people who are ‘different’ creates dissonance. This may make our brains less comfortable,but it’s essential to break out of the old patterns.

Going forward, be sure to value and seek out contrasting perspectives in order to shift out of old ways of thinking.

2. Connection

When people feel connected and have an ‘us’ identity, they are more open to share information, to collaborate, and to invest energy. There’s a primal drive to be ‘in’ the group. This creates a bond and mutual commitment to survive and thrive.

To make ‘team’ happen, build a culture where people share, not just on a rational level, but on an emotional one as well. Remember, connection isn’t just a question of logic. It requires increasing awareness of emotional dynamics.

It’s helpful to have a shared vocabulary for talking about relationships, emotions and culture. Feelings such as appreciation, acceptance, curiosity, caring and calm will fuel connection, which in turn will fuel ‘teamness’. Humans are social creatures and need to feel part of a pack.

3. Joy

Teams that obtain the best results are also those who have fun. If people don’t have fun doing what they do, they will, unfortunately, use only a part of their potential and of their brain.

The newest neuroscientific research reveals that anxiety, frustration and boredom drive our brains to produce chemicals that reduce key capabilities to reflect and create meaning. This reduces our thinking potential. These chemicals are signals of risk and danger, and push the human brain to short-term, protective, pattern-driven thinking, and narrow our attention to attend to problems. This is a recipe for disaster in a market driven by collaboration and innovation. Also consider the impacts of this in the classroom and the impact on learning.

Using joy doesn’t mean that you have to create a playground for your employees or team members. In fact, real joy is not triggered by superficial inducements. Rather,the point is: focus on people’s moods. Create exciting challenges for those who want to engage, make it enticing for those who want to play. When possible, ensure the team includes people who feel passionate about the work at hand, not just possess highest technical expertise. This may require re-thinking selection to move from conventional hiring for task skills, and dramatically increase focus on process skills.When people love what they are doing, they engage more deeply individually, and with one another. For this reason we should all learn to have more fun at work, on the sports field, in the classroom, and at home, and be passionate about what we do.

In conclusion

It is therefore evident that Teamwork is another significant driver for effectiveness and to achieve this we need to allow for divergence, connection and joy to get the most out of our teams. If you are leading a team, or are part of one, try to incorporate these pulse points in the next couple of weeks and see how it impacts your team for the better.