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Teams are a necessary reality of working in most organizations, and their effectiveness is impacted by complex dynamics that develop over time as the team-members develop working relationships with one another. Thus, this is a unique position for Organizational Psychologists to develop teams using principles, tools, and techniques aligned with team-performance prediction research.
Teams that are highly effective exhibit performance in terms of meeting and exceeding their goals—their work output meets or exceeds expectations in terms of timeliness and quality. Yet, indicators of highly effective teams are more than just getting the work done. Other indicators also include aspects of team-member satisfaction and quality of group processes. In order to achieve a balance of high performance, member satisfaction, and quality group processes, several complex team dynamics must be balanced.
Dr. Ruth Wageman, one of the world’s leading scholar-practitioner experts working with teams in organizations, developed an assessment called the Team Diagnostic Survey that accurately measures the degree of effectiveness in an existing team, in addition to identifying areas of strength and potential development opportunities in regard to how the team already works together.
The 6 Conditions of Teams
According to Dr. Wageman’s research, there are 6 Conditions that predict 80% of Team Effectiveness. These 6 conditions are described as either Essentials or Enablers, both of which are developed sequentially. First, teams develop what are called The Essentials, which address matters of:
The team establishing itself as a Real Team;
Involving the Right People; and
Working towards a Compelling Shared Purpose.
Teams that do not fully master these Essentials continue to struggle with more complex team development.
The Enablers have to do with the quality of support and staffing that sustains the team’s growth. The three conditions that are enablers are:
Supportive Organizational Context
Each of these Enablers address ways in which aspects of the way the team functions. Team structure includes aspects of team size, the way work is conducted, and the way team members treat one another, as all three impact the team’s overall effectiveness. Supportive organizational context addresses the ways the team interacts with the rest of the company in ways that may enhance or diminish its effectiveness. Team coaching refers to ongoing development with group processes as a means to continue the team’s ongoing growth.
Scholar-Practitioner Approach: Moving From Data to Action
The Team Diagnostic Survey measures each of the 6 Conditions of Team Effectiveness and produces diagnostic information with regard to areas of strengths and opportunities for growth for teams.
Dr. Wageman was joined by the Organizational Psychology faculty member, Dr. Nicholas Aramovich, in facilitating an advanced two-day workshop for Coaches, Consultants, Human Resources, and Team Development practitioners in Southern California at Alliant International University’s San Diego campus. This workshop focused on techniques of debriefing the diagnostic data from the Team Diagnostic Survey and developing sound strategies. By understanding the team dynamics that impact a team’s effectiveness, practitioners are positioned to shape the growth and development of effective teams.
This Guest Author Blog was written by Organizational Psychology Program Director, Dr. Jennifer Harper.