Team dynamics and chemistry

Starting a new project for a large enterprise customer there was a lot of focus on building proper teams that worked well together and had a good foundation for productivity.

In previous experiences, throwing people together in a team without much prior knowledge of each other often caused a period of working out the kinks and building relationship between the team members. In worst case scenarios you can have people who don’t trust anyone but themselves to do certain tasks and thus you go from the concept of team to a group of individuals just sitting together.

During this process, we had team coaches involved and even a psychologist to expedite this process of coming together as a team.

JTI – Jungian Type Index
As a part of the process, we went through a personality analysis to determine our Jungian type index. I won’t go through all the details of this, but suffice to say that it provides a overall description of your personality traits. This means aspects such as introvert/extrovert, creativity, perception, etc. It sounds a bit “out there” perhaps, but the interesting bit is when you apply this to real world application.

As an example, let’s focus on the commonly known introvert/extrovert aspect of people. An extrovert person enjoys outward communication which means they often enjoy others to join in on the conversation and contribute. An introvert person, on the other hand, will typically prefer to first give the topic a thorough consideration before providing any input. Now, what could be the result of these two personality types being thrown together in a team (especially when they don’t know each other beforehand)? The extrovert might feel that the introvert doesn’t contribute as much, too quiet and never answers fast enough while the introvert might get annoyed with the constant chattering from the extrovert and get annoyed over the fact that he isn’t allowed to think through the issue at hand before being pressured for an answer.

Of course, I exaggerate a bit for effect but the gist of it is that we are all different and we handle situations differently. Conflicts can arise in a team if one is not aware of these things. In the example above, just knowing these things about each other may provide the tools needed to avoid conflict. If you know someone isn’t answering you on the spot because they are thinking about your question might just stop you from thinking they are ignoring you and thus cause frustration.

Furthermore, the personality description will say something about your preference regarding structure in your work day. Maybe you like to be free to explore your creativity? Or perhaps you work best when the day is structured and planned out?
These things are helpful in creating guidelines for how the team should work.

There are more to this, of course, but these are just a few examples of what this could mean for building a more solid team. It should also be noted that the JTI is just a stereotypical description, not everything will fit you personally.

Team coaching sessions
This is where we used what we learned about our type index and put it to real world use. During these sessions, we sat together as a team and worked out simple things like “Do’s and Dont’s”. It might be something that you take for granted, but just being able to talk together about how you want to work together takes you one step closer to being a proper team. Adding a simple thing like “Everyone gathers at the coffee machine for five minutes each day at 2PM” to the list invites a social touch to your otherwise stressful days or maybe you don’t like crude jokes; discuss it in the group and add it to the “Dont’s” list. The joker of the group may lose out on a few colourful remarks, but the reward is that you are all aware that this isn’t something that is appreciated by all and so you avoid one potential conflict. Perhaps some of you need perfect silence to be able to concentrate on your work? Maybe a rule about no phone calls in the team area would be a good idea?

Other simple exercises include giving positive feedback to each other, listening and communicating. Building upon the JTI, there are introspective sessions where each person identifies something they think they need to work with and share it with the team. These are work related things, naturally, and could be stuff like finishing tasks before moving on to the next or merely deciding to involve oneself more in team discussions.

A reward from all of this is that you get a lot of face time with each other, you really talk and basically bond as a team. The threshold for communicating issues or even just to have fun with each other will be lowered.

In closing…

I could have gone much further into the details of all of this, but I fear it would have been a lengthy read and I just wanted to give a brief overview so you can get a taste of it. Hopefully I got my meaning across and the usefulness of this process:) If not, throw me a comment and I’ll try to explain it better.

I’ll just summarize by saying that we were 10 people who more or less had never worked together on a project before and in a very short time we were all friends and had built a solid foundation to work together as a team 🙂

Trust, respect, responsibility and a whole lot of other buzz words makes for a good team 🙂


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