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What Leaders Need to Know to Increase Team Effectiveness

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

There are four main characteristics of our global work environment today and they are,

  1. Diverse

  2. Dispersed

  3. Digital

  4. Dynamic

These, as you know, have had a significant impact on the way we work as a team.

Teams are increasingly made up of a wide range of genders, ages, nationalities, cultures, etc. These team members work on various projects across borders and regions, are dispersed across countries and locations, and are digitally enabled to work anywhere and anytime.

However, this has an impact on a different aspect.

It is actually very difficult to have effective teamwork in this environment.

There are several reasons for this.

  • Gaps in awareness of goals and objectives due to differences in perceptions among members with diverse backgrounds

  • Differences in the process and task requirements of the assigned project depending on the location, causing motivation gaps.

  • Diversity, distributed remote work, and digital communication create an "us" versus "them" mentality. In today's complex environment, team members tend to position themselves in sub-groups based on department, unit, or location, before seeing each other as colleagues, and the human instinct to position themselves as superior to others contributes to this mindset.

  • The above gaps in perceptions, gaps in motivation, and lack of team awareness can hinder collaboration, resulting in ineffective teamwork as information and learning are not actively shared.

What do you think? By leveraging the strengths of diversity and digital to drive dispersed work, dynamic teamwork should be possible, but the reality is that all of these strengths backfire and keep effective teamwork from happening.

So, how can leaders manage this reality?

Let's start by setting up a condition that facilitates team effectiveness.

Step 1: Compelling Direction

Provide a clear direction and challenging goals that will engage and energize the team.

The goals should stimulate team members' motivation for intrinsic rewards (satisfaction, fulfillment, etc.) or extrinsic rewards (salary increases, promotions, recognition, etc.).

Step 2: Strong Structure

Appropriate allocation of human resources, optimization of tasks and processes, and design of positive behavioral norms for teamwork. Avoid imbalance when assigning tasks, and give autonomy to the receiving team to increase motivation. And more importantly, always provide feedback.

Step 3: Supportive Context

Ensure that the team has sufficient resources to do its job.

For example, set up a clear reward system that leads to improved performance, access to the data needed to do the job, training systems, etc. Finally, provide the technical assistance and budget equally to get the job done in each locations.

Step 4: Shared Mindset

Through the three steps listed above (compelling direction, strong structure, and support), raise awareness and foster a shared mindset within the team by creating a common understanding and identity.

Diversified and complex business environments are also changing mindsets. In these times, it is important for leaders to know and monitor how well their teams are functioning to ensure business success, and to make improvements. That will benefit your business to stretch the competitive advantage.



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