What is a team? A team is two or more people working together to meet a specific goal or purpose. All teams are affected by group dynamics. Group dynamics can be understood as how team member's distinct roles and behaviors impact other group members and the group. Team dynamics are often unconscious, psychological factors that influence the direction of a team's behavior and performance — and if not tended to, the team will often fail.
Teams with positive group dynamics have relatively high levels of trust between members. Well-functioning teams can make collective decisions, rally around a shared vision and are willing to be accountable for outcomes. A team with good group dynamics may be constructive and productive, hopefully meeting organizational and stakeholders needs, and demonstrate self-corrective behavior. Poor group dynamics within a team are usually disruptive for successful decision making, work outcomes and the ability to consistently please key stakeholders.
Since effective teamwork is integral to organizations, addressing group dynamics through effective team coaching often leads to improved outcomes, customer satisfaction and an improved bottom line.
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Several models have been developed to describe what leads to effective team functioning and increasingly team coaches are adapting this knowledge from organizational dynamics to effective team coaching.
Peter Hawkins has described one model as the five disciplines of team coaching, or a holistic, systemic team coaching approach:
Does the team have a clear purpose and defined success criteria? Often these guidelines come from outside the team. Do stakeholders recognize the legitimacy of the team's efforts in the relevant community, such as investors, board members, employees? Has a respected leader been chosen? Are the members of the team able to work together well in a competent manner?
The team must clarify for itself, its purpose, goals, objectives, values, roles, and expectations – all within a unifying vision of success.
How are the team's dynamics progressing and how is the team's culture developing? Is the team able to observe when they are functioning as more than the sum of their parts? Is the team able to observe if they are entering a negative cycle, or limiting beliefs, and self-correct?
If a team's meetings are running smoothly, is it an effective team? It is not enough to get along well, the most effective teams also are able to creatively drive improvement related to organizational or strategic goals.
The most effective teams support and develop the team, as well as each member of the team's development and performance. The team needs to be able to observe the reality of a changing landscape and re-commission their mission when needed, as well as evolving how they work together as a team.
The masterful coach utilizes team coaching competencies to help team members, and the team, navigate the complexity of creating and nurturing a healthy, creative, and successful team dynamic.