Goals can be planned and communicated so everyone understands what they are supposed to do. Progress can be measured. Roles can be developed, trained, assigned and measured.  So, what derails teams and causes work culture to go off track?

The answer is simple. Relationships. Specifically, relationships that are frustrated by behavior that is confusing and escalates conflict resulting in poor team behavior. This is the type of behavior and team dynamic that diminishes cooperation among people and collaboration between departments resulting in reduced revenue and success.

Perhaps you have experienced this yourself. So, what lies at the source of team dynamics that result in employee frustration and potentially turns your employment base into a revolving door?

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The results of a new survey finds that 1/3 of employees have considered leaving a job because of team behavior.

Our colleagues at 5Dynamics conducted a survey to determine how people collaborate in the workplace.  The results show that team dynamics are a source of serious frustration with negative relationships driving employees to leave their jobs.

What we found interesting in this study was that 38.6% of the 500 employees surveyed for this study were of the ages between 25 and 34.  These are today’s Millennials who are known to be fickle when it comes to poor workforce behavior.  This largest group was followed by people ranging in age between 35 and 44 who are known as “tweeners” and Gen-X who frequently complain about Millennial expectations.  They are also not commonly known as good team players unless they have been well-trained to adopt interdependence as opposed to independence as a predominant group norm. This means that supporting behaviors that enhance interdependence are measured as part of performance.

In the book, TIGERS Among Us – Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive (Three Creeks, 2010), there is a good explanation between independent behavior and interdependence.  The first supports cooperation while the other sparks internal competition.  Given this, it makes sense that less than 10% of the study respondents reported that they liked working in teams.

So what does this say about business today?

A gap still exists between the old industrial model of how work is done and the information and relationship age where team performance drives business results.  There are 3 reasons for this.

1. Training matters.

Leaders are not trained to facilitate team dynamics and group development. There are quite a few books about how to build good teams to Google. People grab what they can and try to implement what they find.  But unless there is a way to track the progress of these methods and fine-tune what is required to improve cost savings or productivity improvements, teams with so-so outcomes fail.  They fall into conflict and poor group dynamics that result in that all-too-painful revolving door.Relationships matter.

2. Relationships matter.

Sloppy as it may seem, relationship-quality can be measured and improved through training and with a valid and reliable group monitoring system. You want a system with a tracking method that prescribes your next steps and then measures your success.  So look for a system that offers tracking as well as facilitation methods so your leaders build sustainability into all team-based operations. These methods should be repeatable and accomplished in-house.

3. ROI matters.

Organizations acquire training products or hire consultants to put good team dynamic systems into place. But then the ball is dropped because no one is tracking cost savings or productivity improvements for the return on investment. This also means no one knows how they are doing. For example, we installed a team-based leadership program in a company and asked Finance, HR and Operations to track changes in their portion of the corporate balance sheet.  Everyone expected to see changes in HR, but ultimately the largest savings were realized in risk management.  It seems that improvements in leadership diminish accidents. Who would have known this if it hadn’t been tracked?

The bottom line is that in our complex business world today, workforce collaboration and cooperation among employees drives innovation and products into the marketplace. So team dynamics are critical for sustainable business results.  If organizations experience team dynamic problems, this means that something more than training is required.  Ultimately, team dynamics is a system that is anchored by work culture. The approach to improvement is a system’s approach.  It involves tracking and measuring mechanisms as well as leadership competencies designed to build teams and facilitate exceptional team success.

Other resources you might be interested in knowing about:

  1. Report: Is Team Building A Waste of Time? (Scroll down to publications)
  2. Book: TIGERS Among Us – Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive
  3. Self-study Relationship Improvement Program: Principles That Build High Performance Teams

Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS® Success Series

TIGERS® Success Series is a proven, comprehensive approach to building team cooperation and  collaboration between departments by understanding 6 principles that reduce conflict, improve workgroup efficiency and  measurably produce high performance teams.  The 6 TIGERS® principles are Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success. The 6 principles ignite people’s natural desire to make a positive difference at work and separate adequate work groups from truly exceptional ones.  With psychology and human performance at its core, the TIGERS® 6 Principles are used in post mergers where cooperation and collaboration are desired outcomes; in startup companies defining their work culture; and, in transforming low performing work cultures into stellar ones that attract and retain top talent. When managers what to reduce team conflict and problems so they can do their jobs to grow the company, the robust TIGERS® system works well with lean course work, quality and multiple workforce development trainings to track your group development over time and to improve workgroup behavior. Click here to learn about the TIGERS 6 Principles and how to train your team members to deploy TIGERS methods in your organization.  Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and G+

Contact Dianne Crampton at tigers@uci.net to bring the 6 Principles That Build High Performance Teams break out session or presentation to your next conference or association meeting.