Building effective teams

Building effective teams

In this section we explore key elements to building teams. Particular emphasis is given to team development and communication in cross-cultural groups whether nationality or sector.

How can we build effective cross-sector/functional teams?

Effective teams are catalyst and incubator for innovation. Research shows that teams often lack alignment between process and resource sharing which leads to failure. An alignment model can serve well collaborative processes, particularly when they are based on a network model of multiple actors and functions. In figure 1, the alignment model depicts four areas that are important to align to insure an effective collaboration:

Team building: Teams serve an important energy for innovation and collaboration. Developing teams requires care and leadership that recognizes the interdependent nature of the different team members as part of a system. The tradition of working in isolation remains strong in many work settings, and is also culturally based, which means that developing teams for successful collaboration can require time. It is worth noting that most teams, and thereby collaboration, because of a lack of alignment between goals, resources and strategies.  Building teams takes time. It is important to begin the collaboration with conversation to identify common goals, strengths, work processes, communication strategies.

Teams are influenced and impacted by a number of different factors:

Information flow: the speed and means with which information is shared and communicated
Degree of diversity: the variety of knowledge and skills that can be useful and important to achieving the goal, as well as cultural diversity, personality types, business forms, etc. Each of these elements contributes to a unique mix of strengths that can be utilized to benefit the team as a whole.
Richness of connectivity: refers to number and strength of connections between the members of the team, both within a local context and across trans-local/global contexts. The more people who are involved in the connectivity the greater the diversity of input to the network. At the same it is important to recognize the level of saturation after which too many connections become too complex to handle and thus ineffective for the collaboration

Balance between innovation and stagnation: teams have an inherent energy that when facilitated can lead to innovation. If the team dynamics are no longer stimulated the collaboration stagnates. Aspects such as motivation, critical reflection, disagreement, anxiety are all positive elements in a team that can be used to inspire inspiration

Self-organising teams have a natural built in shared leadership. For this to sustain over time requires transparent communication, clarity about strengths, structure and trust among team members
Core values: teams are reliant upon the presence of core values: mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual participation, and mutual commitment. Building trust requires open, honest communication, a safe environment for dialogue, reflection and exploration, and a clarity of expectations that create a sense of reliance within the group