Building Balanced Teams
Merriam-Webster defines balance as, “the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall.” The same statement applies when building balanced teams – if the workload is not distributed evenly and to the right people, teams will fail.
Sports analogies are so easy here so let’s use a few. Imagine a football team full of quarterbacks. There are plenty of players who can throw the ball but who will catch it? Who will block? Who will play defense? Picture a basketball team full of centers. Rebounds and blocking opponent’s shots would be easy but who can do some fancy dribbling down the court and pass the ball to another player for a 3-point shot? In order for these teams to win, they need all required positions on the field or court in the game. Teams in the workplace have the same need.
Most companies have a wide variety of employees. They are different not only in terms of seniority, experience, functional expertise, and skillsets, but also in their natural behavioral preferences. For example, some employees may be naturally detail-oriented and prefer precise instructions, while others may prefer to work under less rigid guidelines and rules. Some employees thrive in teamwork while others prefer to work individually.
In order to maximize team cohesion and effectiveness, The Predictive Index recommends following these steps:
- Know your team strategy.
- Understand the behaviors and natural strengths of yourself and your employees.
- Celebrate your balancers.
- Create flexibility and the ability to adapt to change for teams.
- Measure team performance.
- Recognize and reward the team.
Once you have identified what you are trying to achieve as a team, you can align the team members based on their behaviors and strengths. If your team is already in place and pursuing a new strategy, you can use your knowledge of understanding what superpower each team member brings to the team to achieve your goals.
Everyone on the team, including team leaders, must have self-awareness of their own behavioral preferences and abilities as well as an understanding of the behavioral preferences and abilities of the other team members. Team members also need to know each other’s working styles, strengths, and caution areas and how these interact when different people are paired to work together. The performance needs of the team, the needs of the individuals on the team, and the needs created by the team dynamic must all be met. This can only happen when all team members reflect on individual and collective insights and adapt their working relationships as needed.
Boost team success by celebrating your balancers. Often, a team will be made up of many people having similar strengths, with one or two team members whose strengths are quite different from the majority. For example, a sales team will often include a large number of highly extraverted team members. If a sales operations specialist also serves on the team, that person may be less extraverted by comparison but also detail-oriented and focused on processes and results. The specialist may feel like an outcast or an outsider with regard to the overall team dynamic. These “balancers” are necessary for proper team functioning, however. They protect the team against pitfalls that the majority can’t or won’t see. For this reason, it’s important to celebrate the unique capabilities and situation of a team’s balancers.
It is also vital to create flexibility and the ability to adapt to change for teams. The business value of diversity in building capacity for innovation and change in organizations is priceless. Both innovation and change require multiple perspectives and an environment that respects and values diversity. Teams must also be granted enough autonomy to make quick decisions and pivot their tactics when needed.
Lastly, measure your team’s performance on a regular basis to ensure the team is staying on target. This will also give you the opportunity to recognize the team for their accomplishments. It is important that teams know how balanced they are so they can adjust and celebrate wins! To get started with building balanced teams at your company, contact us today. We have a way you can try it out free of charge under no obligation!