Does Your Team Have the "It Factor"?

Team-for-It-WEBThink about your favorite movie star. He or she probably has “it.” In the case of movie stars “it” is described as having a certain sexual appeal. OK, we’re not going there with teams. The “it” referred to here is communication. While communication may not sound too appealing in a sexy sort of way, it, or rather communication, does serve as a measurement and conduit in team building. You may think that factors such as communication and team productivity do not present hard and fast facts and they are not measureable. Well, now we have scientific evidence and the measurements to back these up.

Alex “Sandy” Pentland recently conducted research on teams with varying performance. His research was conducted in a variety of industries and teams from innovative to backroom operations and call centers to name a few. The measurement instrument was in the form of an electronic badge that the teams wore around their necks. The badges collected data on tone of voice, body language, whom they talked to and more. Yes, the data was based on the questions who, what, why and where. One of the interesting findings is that the “what” didn’t matter. In other words, what these individuals (the who) were discussing didn’t matter, just that they were communicating. The “where” is the conversations that were held outside of the regular work meetings or in the less formal environments like on break or at lunch. Here’s what the study revealed.

Communication is a critical factor in building successful teams and in fact, patterns of communication are “the most important predictor of a team’s success.” The study even went so far as to suggest that these patterns of communication are just as significant as elements such as intelligence, skills, the topic of any discussion and personality.

Yes, even with the varying personalities, communication still plays an important factor in teambuilding. The study did not reveal any particulars about the cultures of the organizations included in the study. Indeed, measurements were taken from more than one team in the same organization. The teams with the best communication still proved to be the most productive over others with poor communication even though all teams were from the same organization. This begs some questions.

Were the members of the better communication teams more respectful of one another’s communication styles? Did the members of these teams take the time to adapt their own communication style to that of their team members? Did these teams ask more clarifying questions during conversations? In a follow-up video, Professor Pentland suggests that the answer to the latter question might be yes. Members of the team who are, as he puts it “charismatic connectors”, play key roles. This “charismatic connector” is a person on the team who is friendly, genuinely interested in the other members of the team and asks a lot of questions. I guess you might call this person the “it” girl or boy. For those of you who are familiar with the DISC, this sounds like the I/C behavioral style. Who knew? If you would like more information on teambuilding and behaviors within teams, give me a call and let’s chat about ways I can be of help to you and your organization and develop your team’s “it”.

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