Want to Improve Team Effectiveness: Learn about Team Emotional Intelligence

Daily Quote: “Emotional Intelligence has had a real impact on individual growth and performance but the only problem is that so far emotional intelligence has not focused its research on team competency or effectiveness. The reality is that most work in organizations is done by teams. And if managers have one pressing need today, it’s to find ways to make teams work better”. Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

“EXCELLENT” Meetings. Meetings are what bosses “do.” Meetings are de facto Leadership Opportunity #1. Act accordingly.  Dr. Tom Peters

How to make meetings more satisfying, productive and work more effectively? “Begin with the end in mind” or the vision thing. By setting a vision of what the team wants to accomplish and what a successful meeting looks like the changes of increasing engagement and having more satisfying outcomes increase dramatically .

We generally ignore priority setting or vision thinking in most meetings. For some reason there is pressure to get down to work quickly. This thinking goes like this “we can’t waste time on all this petty stuff we have important things to do”. So what happens is that most team leaders and members avoid or ignore answering these important questions: What is the most important thing to work on and accomplish while we are together this morning? Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve? Where are we trying to get to?’ What does success look like? How do we handle side issues that might come up? How do we get everyone involved, engaged and committed to what’s important to discuss and decide on today? What the leader and team fail to understand is how important it is to answer these questions not just to motivate thinking and members engagement but to guide how to use our valuable time together. Both “structure and processes” are key elements for increasing energy and productivity in meetings.  So my advice to those who are bored or frustrated by meetings is to –STOP, CLARIFY and GET AGREEMENT on what is important to focus on today.

Another important idea is presented by Druskat and Wolff in their Harvard Business Review’s article that the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental understanding of group emotional intelligence. This understanding allows effective task processes to emerge like setting decision-making and communication norms and that cause members to commit to the shared established by the team. Their research says there are three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy.”

Planning and detail thinking are both about “how” to implement your vision, with planning being more at the 30,000 level and big picture thinking, and detail discussions are more ground level dealing with specific actions and commitments.   “This kind of ‘how’ to execute or work together is very difficult if you don’t have a  clear why these activities are a priority and important to the individuals, team and organizational imperatives.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Learning how to conduct effective meetings can’t be learned over night. To break the habits of poor meetings will take experimentation and practice. In the beginning instituting new group maintenance procedures or processes will feel unnatural or uncomfortable. So as a team leader it is important from a learning and mental stand point to stick with changes long enough to see if they can make a difference in your team’s productivity. Remember that ” A team can have everything going for it the brightest and most qualified people, access to resources–a clear mission and still fail because it lacks group emotional intelligence and understanding of group dynamics”.

So over the next month your challenge as team leader is to explore ways to improve your meetings through feedback and speaking-up. Start first by reaching out to team members on two questions:

1. How do they feel about the effectiveness of our present meetings.

2. Ask for suggestions on what needs to change in order to make them more productive?


Want to improve Team Meetings-Learn these 3 Principles of Group Dynamics

“The basic principle of effective team dynamics is for the facilitator to promote the feeling that every human being is equal, unique and adds value for accomplishing the team’s goals.”  M.W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

Three critical success factors of Group Dynamics

  1. Inclusion
  2. Control
  3. Openness

Inclusion- “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Dr.Stephen Covey 

Everyone wants to feel welcomed and part of the team. Since  your team meeting is a social and interpersonal interaction establishing early and strong connections with your members is critical for creating a positive climate. Begin to establish strong rapport before meeting begins.  One way I have found that is helpful is to welcome everyone with a one-on-one contact and check how their day has gone.Try asking questions such as, What are they ready to discuss? Are they preoccupied or cleared to go? Do they need time to re-focus before taking up the agenda?  As the meeting proceeds try to include and get comments from everyone around the table or on the phone. I find using the “go around” tool helpful in getting everyone involved from the beginning of the meeting.

Control–In the beginning, the designated leader is seen as the conductor of the orchestra. It is imperative that you accept this role. You can accomplish this by setting direction and structure for the meeting. Providing a clear road map for the meeting solves the issue of formal leadership for the the group.  In other words, inform members in a clear and concise way what the purpose and objectives are for the meeting and then check to see if this meets their expectations or do they have new items to ad to the agenda.  This practice involves and engages group members.  Also, acknowledge their experience and expertise. Request their input and contributions. Focus on learning from each other not just sitting and listening to the formal leader pontificate. Give the team choices on how to proceed and reminding them of the “ground rules” for interacting for having an effective and worthwhile conversation. Encourage challenges and request from the group in order to facilitate shared leadership and learning.

Openness–Is all about being non-defensive and authentic in responding to group members. As the group leader you need to model for members directness, caring and assertive style. You need to practice active listening using the power of clarifying points of view, paraphrasing to show understanding, and responding in a leveling and constructive manner that leads to more engagement and interaction. If members feel you are not leveling it will lead to fragmentation and divisiveness in the conversation. You must challenge the group to use their imagination and problem solving skills when discussing case studies and simulation activities. By being open you will teach the group to trust and work together in learning to solve problems and discover new ways to do things.

Next time you facilitate a meeting keep these principles in mind and I promise less frustration and more success in accomplishing the team’s goals.

Art of Facilitation–Understanding Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics and the Art of Facilitation

  1. What is group dynamics?
  2. How is facilitation defined ?
  3. What are the Roles and Critical Success Factors for Facilitators
  4. How do groups get started and evolve?
  5. What helps and hinders interpersonal communication?

Internal Group structures and Methods for Operating

Goals—What does the group want to accomplish or your mission as a group

Roles–What part will you play on the team; everyone understands their own job and responsibilities

Norms--In group dynamics a norm, is a social rule of how team members need to behave in order to be accepted by the group. If norms are broken conflict will develop and consequesnces can be poor group productivity or individual isolation or shunning.that is socially enforced.

Methods or procedures-How is the work going to get done? Who is going to record the group recommendations. Procedures and methods for discussing issues are clear to everyone. The procedures are flexible and easily adated to different situations The methodsare consistent and viewed as fair so that everyone can carry out roles and achieve group goals.

Studies would indicate that groups that have successfully achieved goals over an extended period of time are the groups that have members perform task, process and maintenance functions. Here, the group effort is not only directed by its immediate work objectives (task,) but it is also building its own resources and stability for members working together (process and maintenance.) Such a group is able to observe its own process, modify its procedures, and take immediate action to provide relationship or task functions as needed. A group that limits itself only to task functions, however, is often found to be high producing for a short period of time. Such groups, if they fail to deal with the “people” value and concerns, as well as the task itself, soon lose their commitment to achieving the work goals.
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