What is the Real Meaning of a Supportive and Purposeful Team?

April 27, 20203:15 pm566 views
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Businesses are facing increasingly complex and unpredictable challenges that could disrupt business operations. In order to survive such a tight business competition, the presence of a supportive and purposeful team, a team that is highly communicative and has the ability to achieve identified goals, is crucial. However, teamwork can be a challenge in itself, leading to a host of new questions: “What can an employer do to achieve a positive team dynamic that results in absolute success?” 

The secret behind a positive, supportive, and purposeful teamwork lies in the heart of each individual. It is by fostering a supportive team dynamic can employers reap the innovation and business success, Microsoft and IDEO’s Art of Teamwork revealed. Other things would be by giving purpose, identity, awareness and inclusion, trust and vulnerability, and constructive tension. 

See also: How to Navigate Ego to Boost Team and Personal Success

Team purpose 

When a team’s purpose is clear, agreed upon by all, and deeply fit, each teammate will have a sense of autonomy and agency to make decisions and act on their own. The purpose can also shape a team to be whole which helps them remain focused, perform better and happier. 

The accessible way to start your team’s purpose would require a collective strategy. Joe Brown, Senior Portfolio Director at IDEO advised that the most effective strategy is to get your team together and jot down a few instances when you are most proud of your team’s work. Then share back with each other. 

As a leader, you can ask your team “who are we serving?” and “what was the impact we had?” Filling a form that focuses on your team’s purpose should also be encouraged. Your form can address the most fundamental aspect that answers “why does the team exist and for what/who?” The answers to these questions can help you construct purpose statements that will be agreed by everyone in the team. 

Team Identity 

Successful teamwork forms a collective identity by aligning shared values, creating agreements that are revisited and bonding through shared experiences that are uniquely theirs. In short, this sense of belonging could build cohesion and help teams work as one. Inside the team identity practice, there are three aspects to breakdown, as follows: 

  • Shared values are the beliefs and attitudes that a team defines as necessary for success. When a team articulates shared values, they are brought to life through everyday behaviours. 
  • Agreements are the tangible, agree-upon manifestations of a team’s values. Agreements might show up in your team daily discussion or upon methods for giving feedback. 
  • Rituals are repeated behaviours and activities that reinforce both formal and informal agreements. A ritual can be as simple as going out to eat as a team on Monday, having a team chant, or doing a creative exercise together every morning. 
Awareness and inclusion 

This includes an understanding of self and others that enables teams to navigate interpersonal dynamics and foster inclusion. There are three levels of awareness in a team, namely self-awareness, co-awareness, and situational awareness. 

  • Self-awareness is the ability to both recognise one’s emotions and understand why one might be feeling them. 
  • Co-awareness is the ability to sense others’ emotions and recognise the impact one’s actions have on others. 
  • Situational awareness is taking into account not just yourself and your teammates too, but also the context you are in. 
Trust and vulnerability 

The virtuous circle of trust and vulnerability establishes psychological safety in a team. Team members who feel psychologically safe are able to take greater interpersonal risks, which in turn allows innovative ideas to flourish. 

A fun way to practice vulnerability in a team is to share a tune that makes your team happiest and embarrasses your team the most. By sharing guilty pleasure with your team, you will learn what it feels like to let your guard down, even if it’s starting with a small thing like a good bad song.  

Constructive tension 

Tension can harness differences within teams and accelerate innovation. Teams that value diversity tend to perform better for the simple reason that more diverse ways of thinking mean more ideas and viewpoints. 

The easy way to start this constructive tension practice is to gather your team and ask each member to write down a tension that is affecting their ability to collaborate, advised Michelle Lee, Director at IDEO Play Lab. Taking a playful approach can often defuse the discomfort we have when talking about tensions, opening up a productive conversation. 

“The secret behind a supportive successful team lies in the ability to intentionally nurture and maintain healthy team dynamics.”

Read also: Achieving Success through Collaborative Communication in Large Team: Q&A with Arturo Arrarte, Head of Growth at Slack, Asia Pacific