Have you ever heard the tired old cliché “there’s no ‘I’ in team”? Well, it may be a phrase that makes you roll your eyes, but when it comes to group dynamics in the workplace, it pays to concentrate on improving these forces to create an unstoppable team.
What Are Group Dynamics and How They Are Important to Team Cooperation
A phrase coined in the 1940s by Kurt Lewin, a social psychologist, group dynamics  refer to the roles and behaviors people take on when they work in a group—and how those factors affect the team as a whole. Group dynamics affect everything from productivity to morale, and for a team to be to be successful, it’s important for these dynamics to be positive and supportive, rather than toxic and disconnected.
Some of the most well-known roles people often take on in a group setting can quickly deteriorate communication and stymie creativity. Some people take on the role of the aggressor, constantly disagreeing with others who speak up. Variations on this stereotype are those who are constantly negative and critical, or constantly try to seek recognition for themselves. Others take on the opposite role: remaining as quiet and passive as possible, contributing as little as possible.
Teams with poor group dynamics also often fall into groupthink—defaulting to one way of thinking because it’s easier than proper communication. Groupthink kills innovation and creativity, and is often spurred on by poor leadership.
How Your Team Can Benefit from Applying the Concept
The benefits of good group dynamics are massive. Team members who can trust one another are more likely to support or question ideas based on their own thoughts and feelings, rather than on what the group as a whole thinks, leading to greater innovation and creativity. Morale is generally higher in teams with positive group dynamics, leading to improved productivity and employee retention. Team members may actually start looking forward to meetings instead of dreading them!
There really is no downside to improving group dynamics, but doing so does take some work. You can’t implement changes and immediately expect them to work—it’s a process that takes time. However, it’s well worth the effort to bring the team closer together.
6 Effective Ways to Promote Positive Group Dynamics
Now that you know how important positive group dynamics are, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips for bringing your team closer together and reaping the benefits!
Understand Your Team
Different personalities on your team will heavily influence the group dynamics that naturally occur. Start by observing the different skills and traits your team members bring to the table so you can leverage those skills in the group. Introverted team members may have great ideas but don’t speak up much, and may need a little coaxing, for example.
Don’t let your team meetings be a free-for-all. Set up expectations for each team member’s role, the meeting itself, and the format it will take. Amazon’s CEO has set up an unusual practice for getting thoughtful input from all team members: each meeting starts with every member reading the meeting’s agenda for 20-30 minutes before making comments. Shaking up the traditional PowerPoint and uneven input of a traditional meeting can lead to great results. Get creative with your meetings to ensure that everyone has a voice!
Knowing your team is important when delegating new projects. Distributing delegation based on each employees’ skills, interests, and drive is very important for leveraging all the talent on your team and improving overall equality.
Promote Diverse Viewpoints
Part of this tip involves bringing a diverse workforce on your team if at all possible. People with different backgrounds bring something new to the table, and can help the team avoid groupthink. Different age groups, ethnicities, and experiences can all help breathe new life into group dynamics, so it’s important to encourage everyone to contribute.
Use Team-Building Exercises
Team-building exercises may make most people roll their eyes, but there’s a reason they continue to see use: they can help build trust on a team. Trust falls may have fallen out of fashion (and that’s not a bad thing!), but there are so many exercises you can use to help improve group dynamics and welcome new members into the group.
Don’t Allow Problems to Fester
If you start to notice hostility or toxicity within the group, it’s crucial to address it right away. This is where emotional intelligence is very helpful—use your empathy and put yourself in the shoes of your team. Why are problems popping up? How can you solve them before they get worse? Allowing problems to work themselves out is rarely effective—you need to promote good communication and deal with problems before they undo all the progress you’ve made toward positive group dynamics.
|||^||MindTools: Improving Group Dynamics|
|||^||HarvardBusinessReview: Introverts, Extroverts, and the Complexities of Team Dynamics|
|||^||University of San Francisco: 5 Ways Managers Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace|
|||^||Lifehack: 5 Team Building Ideas For Millennial Offices|
|||^||Brandeis University: The Key to Successful Leadership|