102 - 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Build and Manage Great Teams

Try one. Try them all. They work. Science says so.

Here's a look at ten of the best studies available. Check them out to learn practical steps you can do to ensure your team is set up for success.

1. Teambuilding exercises can work.

Building a great team and actual "teambuilding" exercises are often viewed in very different lights.

Teambuilding is a business topic that generally produces a few eye rolls. The first thing that comes to mind for many are all the superficial activities that force people together into some sort of awkward scenario with all of the participants hating the process and wishing it would end.

Teambuilding shouldn't have that reputation.

The Small Group Research journal paper "Does Team Building Work?" analyzed data from 103 studies conducted between 1950 and 2007. This cumulative research provides the strongest scientific evidence to date that team building can have measurable, positive effects on team performance.

2. The 5 best teambuilding activities.

In light of the lackluster reputation of teambuilding, you probably aren't surprised to read that research from Citrix has shown that 31 percent of office workers say they can't stand teambuilding activities.

This negative association is a shame, because, as discussed in this Harvard Business School publication, a connected team is a motivated team. Further supporting research from the American Psychological Association (APA) finds that team building activities can help employees feel valued, and those that do are the most motivated to do great work.

They are:

  1. Volunteering
  2. Physical activities
  3. Field trips
  4. Professional development activities
  5. Shared meals

3. Great teams need non-work communication.

A study from MIT's Human Dynamics Laboratory shows that when it comes to predicting the success of a great team, the most important element is how well the team communicates during informal meetings:

"With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we've found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team's success."

This doesn't mean team members have to be best friends outside of work, but managers should recognize that non-work discussions are critical to creating a team that looks out for each other. Otherwise, co-workers may begin to view one another as just cogs in the machine.

4. Star performers are often dependent on their team.

Your rockstar employee that seems to thrive due to natural talent may be more dependent on their team than you think.

A Harvard study published in 2006 revealed that the overall performance of heart surgeons improved over time (patient mortality was the outcome measured) when they were able to consistently work with their usual team at the primary hospital they performed in.

When the surgeons would cover for other doctors, the researchers found that this measured improvement didn't translate to other familiar hospitals with unfamiliar personnel.

5. Remote teams can outperform local teams.

Yahoo's recent announcement they would end their remote working program created significant debate. But the research shows that not every company should write off the practice just yet.

A 2009 study from MIT's Sloan School of Management found that virtual teams working for software companies were regularly outperforming on-location teams, as long as they had the proper systems in place.

The group's findings show these elements to be critical for remote-team success:

  1. Let remote workers know they are valued
  2. Find solutions for seamless work coordination
  3. Task-related communications

6. In-person brainstorming is not the best option for teams.

Great teams are often denoted by their ability to unite to come up with stellar solutions to brain-busting problems.

The problem is that study after study has shown that brainstorming in groups is generally a bust when it comes to generating the best, most novel ideas.

Here are a few reasons group brainstorming can fall flat:

  1. Social loafing
  2. Production blocking
  3. Evaluation apprehension

7. Great teams benefit from having an analytical thinker.

When it comes to assembling a great team, this study from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that having an analytical thinker on the team is a must to balance out big-picture strategists.

How is an analytical thinker defined? The study described this person as someone who pays close attention to "process focus," which is the art of identifying and focusing on the sub-tasks needed to achieve the goal.

In other words, this detailed-oriented person sweats the small stuff; they're a great complement to the broad thinkers who concentrate on executing overall strategy.

8. Forming "micro-cultures" can be bad for teams.

Varying degrees of friendship are bound to form within teams. Research shows that it's common for closer bonds to be formed among team members who share similarities based on their social identity and by the department they work in (e.g., marketing, support, product, etc.).

In a psychological study on getting the most out of multidisciplinary teams, lead researcher Doris Fay found that multidisciplinary teams produced better quality innovations than more uniform teams, but that this boost in performance was only consistent if there wasn't a problem of teams fracturing into smaller subgroups.

9. Teams need "social sensitivity."

For a team to perform well across a range of challenges, it's essential for its members to have the character trait of social sensitivity.

Recent research on this topic shows that the ability to read co-workers' emotional states is pivotal in determining a team's success. Detecting when co-workers may be frustrated, busy, confused or embarrassed has proven helpful to a team's cohesion.

Seemingly small things--such as being able to take turns while speaking--can go a long way toward increasing social sensitivity among teams.

10. The best teams have extroverts and introverts.

"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it'll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid."--Albert Einstein

Many companies actively encourage their employees to open up and be more extroverted. But be careful of this mentality; even though introverts don't tend to make as strong of a first impression as extroverts, they have proven to be key members of teams.

Research shows that although introverts "start off with the lowest status" (i.e., their peers didn't evaluate them as having much influence), as time progressed their status climbed whereas the extraverts' status fell.

These underrated quiet types offer a unique way to balance a team, so be sure that any 'wallflowers' on your team are given a chance; their reserved nature may just mean that they are shy, not that they have nothing to contribute.

Read the full article here: Inc.

All the best!

Patty Block

Building Blocks

© 2023 The Block Group Inc. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer