How to Manage and Improve Team Dynamics

Mike Kulakov, January 25, 2021
team dynamics

You’ve got the team! Great! But how do you know they will work effectively together? And how can you get the right mix of skills and personalities to make your project or company come to life? Behind every successful team is team dynamics. It is these key ingredients that make it or break it for any business. 

If you feel like you need to boost up your team efficiency and make your business projects go more smoothly, then this article is right for you. You’ll discover:

✔️ What is team dynamics;
✔️ Why do you need to consider team dynamics in your work;
✔️ Examples of team dynamics;
✔️ What are the strategies to build an ultimate team.

Team Dynamics Definition

So, what is team dynamics? Kurt Lewin, an influential social psychologist, first mentioned team dynamics in 1939. He defined team dynamics as “positive and negative forces within groups of people.”

Kurt Lewin

Kurt Lewin
German-American psychologist, known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational, and applied psychology in the United States

It means that each group has its own psychological climate that influences group behavior and performance. Moreover, each personality involved in the group unconsciously sets the direction of group dynamics, whether it’s positive or negative. In short, the definition of team dynamics boils down to this:

Team dynamics is a system of behaviors and psychological processes occurring within a team.

So, then why do you need to address group dynamics in your teams? Let’s break this down, step by step…

Why Do You Need to Consider Team Dynamics?

The answer is simple — group or team dynamics defines how effective your team is going to be in their work performance and generating new ideas. As a result, it influences the overall project outcome. 

The good thing about team dynamics is that if you know its parameters and monitor them, you can influence them. This way, if one of your projects started badly, you can do something about it by trying to change the team dynamics rather than observing your project slowly going off the rails.

Project managers and human resource managers strive to create positive group dynamics in teams. It means that team members trust each other, are ready to work collectively, provide support, and productively brainstorm ideas, and listen to other group members. In groups with positive dynamics, team members feel comfortable to share their ideas and have constructive dialogue. 

Whereas groups with poor dynamics disrupt work processes and fail to achieve positive results just by repeatedly making poor decisions that lead to even poorer choices. All of these generate negative conflicts inside a team, making each participant feel vulnerable and unwilling to share their ideas. 

The craziest thing about poor team dynamics is that even if your team consists of world-class professionals, the result of their collaboration will be far from perfection (at best) or just a downright disaster. This short illustrative clip is worth a thousand words and will make every PM cringe:

Examples of Team Dynamics 

Surely, every business owner and each team leader wants to create only dynamic teams that develop positively and reach their goal. But, for this, they need to learn how to recognize the signs of a positive team dynamic. Here are some examples of team dynamics done right:

  • Open communication. When team members are willing to discuss issues and problems throughout a project.
  • Alignment. When each team member understands their duties in the project, overall project objectives, and project development direction.
  • Conflict resolution. When each participant feels comfortable enough to resolve conflicts through discussion or take it to the group for public discussion.
  • Commitment to the project. When each team member is deeply involved in the project and feels at ease to share their ideas on how to improve it.
  • Optimistic thinking. When participants are ready to commit to the project even when everything is going wrong.

Building the Ultimate Team

Now, as you know how to spot the signs of positive dynamics in your team, let’s get to the strategies on how to develop such a team effectively.

Get to Know Your Team

Starting with positive thinking development strategies without getting acquainted with your team will result in failure. Therefore, before applying any practical techniques to team development, do this one thing: study your team.

But how? In all likelihood, you’re not a psychologist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be observant. Here’s how to understand your team better:

👉 Observe your team during the working process and at breaks. Watch the way they communicate and solve problems. This gives you a better understanding of their current interactions and how they work together.
👉 Have individual interviews with team members. Let them share their concerns and feelings about the project and team they work in. Encourage open discussion.
👉 Interview team-related employees such as line managers and others to see their point of view on the effectiveness of your team.

As you conduct the study, you’ll understand better any pain points within your team or weaknesses in communication. That allows you to address any underlying issues and solve them before they become critical.

All teams have different problems. However, some of the most common include:

Inefficient leadership. This is when your team needs a stronger leader who will delegate tasks, define project development direction, and estimate the accomplished work more effectively.
Groupthink and authoritative approach. This is the opposite of weak leadership and is when team members feel uneasy in expressing their opinions and contributing to the project. For example, when team members are punished for their mistakes or for disagreeing with the team leader.
Lack of interest when some team members aren’t involved in a project and throw parts of their work on other colleagues. As a result, several members of the team do all the work in a project.
Psychological discomfort. This is when team members hide their feelings or are motivated at work by their emotions. They may have hidden aggression, recognition-seeking, or negative attitudes. All of these results in poor communication of information and a bad attitude towards a project. 

Develop and Apply Your Strategy

Now, as you know your enemy you need to fight it and form positive team dynamics. For this, you need to choose the right strategies that could improve the psychological environment and performance of your team. Here are some strategies you could use:

💨 Resolve problems quickly

No team exists without conflicts of opinions and interests. Therefore, in case you start observing conflicts in your team you need to address them quickly. For this, get your team members to talk. It can be a private conversation or a group talk depending on the situation – every team and person is different in this respect.

The aim of this strategy is to encourage your team members to speak openly and prevent them from hiding their real thoughts and emotions. Conflict resolution helps team members to keep positive dynamics within the team, excluding sarcastic and joking attitudes in interpersonal communication.

🤝 Develop collaboration

Collaboration is the key to successful project accomplishment. When each team member gets deeply involved in collaborative work, they are more willing to share new ideas and aimed at achieving a common goal with high results. For this, you need to develop collaboration within teams and spread this practice over the whole company. 

👨‍💼 Help team leaders to develop

Team leaders are the driving force at the core of every team. This way you should have your team leaders to be strong and experienced professionals who can set goals and delegate tasks in the team effectively. 

Set for team leaders essential areas of improvement to help them develop their leadership skills. These could be time management skills, organizational skills, public speaking skills, people management skills, and others. 

📣 Build communication

Transparency and effective communication help teams achieve their goals successfully and much easier. Though, not every team member has developed communication skills by default. You could use various techniques to encourage your employees to work on their communication skills. 

For example, you can use self-advocacy development techniques, group decision-making development methods, or just team-building games to enhance collaboration and interpersonal relationships among team participants. 

In case your team works remotely during the pandemic or due to work specifics, you can teach your team how to build effective remote communication

👣 Follow stages of group development

Every group passes more or less the same stages of group development. This way you can foresee and prevent possible difficulties each team member can face in the group and channel team dynamics in the right way. It’ll help you to avoid lots of issues in the early stages of your group forming and prevent them along the working process. 

Building a Dynamic Team: Wrap Up

Team dynamics is a powerful force that can be disruptive for your projects if it takes a negative form or a creative and enhancing power for your team if it turns to be positive. To have only positive group dynamics in your teams you should apply various strategies depending on the occurring problems within teams. 

We, at Everhour, hope that you’ve found out something new on how to build positive dynamics in your teams. Hopefully, you can use these strategies to encourage positive team dynamics in your company and make your team even more successful. 

Enjoyed the article? For more tips and strategies that’ll help you better manage your team (and be a better team member), check out these interesting reads next:

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Mike Kulakov

IT entrepreneur, executive and a former engineer. Responsible for company growth as well as the team’s motivation. Big fan of playing tennis, snowboarding, traveling, reading books, and (of course) I live and breathe our product.