Team dynamics are crucial when you build a team around a goal. And your best bet is to build teams around goals and manage team dynamics in order to reach them.
We covered team roles in the previous article of our team dynamics series. For now, bear in mind that social scientists applied Belbin’s team roles to a group of students near the Arctic circle. The results of this coaching experiment were better team cohesion and the feeling that, “although individuals are not perfect and good at everything, teams can achieve this.”
This is an eye-opener with regards to the value of understanding team roles and organizational self-perception. It underlines the importance of understanding same-group and cross-group team roles interactions, two topics I will tackle in this article.
Team dynamics in same-group interactions
When building a team, you need to pay attention to role types and how they interact. This is a sensitive matter particularly in same-group interactions. At different stages of your business, you need different team make-ups. Here are some insights.
Shapers (SH) are competitive in conflicts. They fight to win. Even if it comes at the cost of personal relations or team spirit. Once unleashed, shapers will fight to the very end. Too many SH types on the team is risky for conflict management. They can be insensitive to how others feel.
Completer-Finisher (CF) types have trust issues with other team members. In fact, they don’t even trust other CF types. This is largely due to CF types being perfectionists. Even when dealing with other perfectionists, they criticize and over-idealize.
Implementers (IMP) can be inflexible. This can create animosities with Shapers. Because Shapers fight to win. And even with Completer-Finishers. Because CF-types need to see things done in the best possible way.
Teamworker (TW) types are great for every team. They are agreeable and work well together. Hence, the name. They are the most likeable of any of the roles, and get along with everyone.
Resource-Investigators (RI) working together are essential for business development. They surely are quick to make friends. Within your team and outside your company. RI are perfect when you need to do business development. And when coupled with a Thinking role, they’re amazing with recruiting.
There can be only one Co-ordinator (CO) per team. Unless you’re dealing with air-traffic control, that is. Co-ordinator types work well together, just not on the same team. If each Co-ordinator works with a team, and all of them are managed by a co-ordinator, that’s fine. Co-ordinators work best with hierarchies.
Too many PLANT (PL) types are counterproductive. Even though they’re known to be innovators, inventors, creatives, generally radical thinkers, no team should have too many. As has been noted, PLANT types are very creative. So, they will constantly debate ideas. Hence, little work will be done. At any rate, this negatively affects goal contagion.
However, PLANT types will work wonders if you’re stuck in a rut. Imagine that quite a bit of time has passed since your launch. What’s more, your growth is not what you would have expected. That’s when you need to bring in the PLANTs.
Specialists (SP) work well with each other. However, they react poorly to criticism. This naturally will come from other thinking roles. Both action and people roles will bow to the expertise. In effect, they will take it as a given. The only thinking type that works very well with specialists is PL. The issue with specialists today is that they tend to manage their own consultancy rather than work with teams. They are top knowledge workers, likely to be found in coworking spaces.
Monitor-Evaluator (ME) types are well-regarded by other thinking roles. What’s surprising is that the PLANT type might work better alongside a Monitor-Evaluator. To the abstract endeavors of the PLANT, the ME brings structure and focus.
Team dynamics in cross-group interactions
Two most important aspects of building teams are clashes and synergies. While your team develops, it grows and changes. You will need to pay special attention to how individual types interact. This might make or break your team.
Team dynamics clashes
Co-ordinators and Shapers in management roles clash a lot. Why? Because their management styles are very different. Neither will be able to groom the other for a management role. In a sense, shapers are better liked leaders. They’re what the team appreciates as warm, active, inspiring. Co-ordinators are highly strategic. Coupled with their attention to detail and bigger-picture thinking, they might come off as cold. However, they can form an unlikely partnership.
Specialists and CFs have an odd relation. The CF will both admire and criticize the Specialist. Completer Finishers are perfectionists. They love when something is complete. And the Specialist has authoritative knowledge over an area. This interaction can fluctuate a lot.
All other types can perceive Monitor-Evaluators as boring. And Monitors can become boring. Particularly in meetings that aren’t smart (if you want to improve, this ultimate meetings guide will help). Monitors can become over-critical. Their input can deplete people’s energy levels or de-motivate. Their strongest effect is on action roles. Also, they tend to stay on the conflict-avoiding side.
Implementers will find it hard to work with PLANT types. Why? Because Implementers are inflexible, and Plants are dreamy. Implementers fixate on one way of doing things. Plants constantly think of new ways of doing them. Most often, Plants are disruptive to Implementers. Hence, the conflict.
Teamworkers will hold back their opinions. They are typically conflict-avoidant, particularly when clashing with action roles. TWs will often be indecisive, particularly in conflicts. They will often rather not speak their mind than disagree with a popular opinion.
Team dynamics synergies
Shapers & Co-ordinators
Each of these roles has a lot to offer to a team. They complement each other. Co-ordinators have poor onboarding skills, by and large. And onboarding done right is very important. Their interest is with the team as a whole. Although likely to clash, as stated before, they can also work well together.
Shapers can become more of a tactical leader, with the Co-ordinator serving as a strategic leader. Think of it in military terms. Shapers are field units, actively deploying teams. Meanwhile, Co-ordinators are strategists, passively deploying teams.
Teamworkers & everybody else
Teamworker types work very well with everyone. They are adaptive, flexible, eager to please. The warm, soft core of baked bread. They make the team.
All people-oriented roles work well together and complement each other. You have the CO as an analytical leader, the RI as a scout and the TW as core. The trio does wonders for proper team setups.
Overall, it really does matter what the team is for. Especially when dealing with ad-hoc teams or micro-goals. Think about it. Determining what you plan to achieve is the first step. The second step is building the team around that goal. And team dynamics can do wonders for your team. Read more about team dynamics here. Finally, consider that people are far more adaptable than any sort of prescribed pattern.