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Making the Dream Work: How Team Dynamics Can Help (or Hurt) Business

Flowlu Team
Flowlu Team
March 22, 2024
9 min read
Making the Dream Work: How Team Dynamics Can Help (or Hurt) Business
As the old saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. But the wrong team interplay can sink even talented operations. Learn what you need to do with your team dynamics to protect areas like B2B marketing strategy and software development.

A B2B marketer sits at their desk, uncertain how to tackle a social media campaign, article marketing push, and mass email simultaneously. Every good marketer might be a jack of all trades, able to do a little of a lot of different things, but they feel stretched beyond their bandwidth.

Meanwhile, at a different company, a full-stack web developer readies for a sprint or a two-week push to write code for a cloud-based SaaS solution. This developer is among the best in their network at what they do. But quietly, they worry about being able to handle every element of their sprint planning.

These two disparate business scenarios share something: Each can benefit from a good understanding and use of team dynamics. This concept means even the brightest employees never have to go it alone; instead, they accomplish more in small, efficient teams than they ever would as individuals.

The Basics of Team Dynamics

The idea of team dynamics goes back more than 40 years, dating to a seminal 1981 book by R. Meredith Belbin, Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail.

You can trace the history of the concept much further. In the early 20th century, Henry Ford used assembly lines to take the time needed to build one car from more than 12 hours to just an hour and 33 minutes. By having workers with different specialties each contribute a small part of the auto manufacturing process instead of having one person try to do everything, work could be exponentially quicker.

That said, production at Ford’s plants wouldn’t be optimal if different workers along the assembly line quarreled. The same holds for workers today, whether building an auto transmission or sitting around a conference table in an office. Thus, team dynamics are about getting people to work together based on skill set and personality.

Common Team Members and Sizes

Belbin’s book and research has put forth nine key team roles within three groupings:

  • Monitor evaluators, specialists, and plants, who are each thought-oriented team members;
  • Shapers, implementers, and completer-finishers, who are each action-oriented team members;
  • Coordinators, team workers, and resource investigators are people-oriented team members.

The idea is that within a corporate setting, you can stand up teams for different projects or initiatives, with each team member serving a different one of these roles. Accordingly, teams can ideally consist of nine members, despite no hard and fast rule. A good team might consist of as few as three people, with one member thought-oriented, another action-oriented, and the final member people-oriented.

It’s worth noting, too, that team dynamics don’t have to occur strictly within the same company. With 99% of companies in the United States qualifying as small businesses, teams may likely be spread across enterprises, with some combination of employees, subcontractors, or freelancers making up the team.

There’s also a decent chance of a client serving some role on a team, either formally or informally. Understanding team dynamics can, therefore, be critically important for maintaining business relationships.

How Team Dynamics Drive Organizational Success

Anyone who’s ever taken a CliftonStrengths test through their job – or even on their own for career development purposes – may know how many different strengths can exist among workers.

As Gallup noted, 34 CliftonStrengths are grouped into four key areas: strategic thinking, relationship building, influencing, and executing. Some standout employees may have major strengths within each of these areas. More realistically, though, different employees will be strong in different places.

When an individual tackles a project, they are limited by their strengths and weaknesses. Depending on how simple a project is, a small set of strengths might be enough to get the job done. More complex undertakings, however, will require individuals with different strengths to work together.

The Significance of Interpersonal Relationships and Behaviors

Good team dynamics aren’t just about workers with different skill sets coming together to accomplish more than they ever would standing alone. It’s about people of different personalities, workstyles, and backgrounds being able to function and thrive as a team.

Whether it’s a highly-skilled web developer or a one-of-a-kind B2B marketer, workers aren’t going to get very far if they – or their companies – don’t understand the importance of fostering good team growth.

Key Aspects of Team Dynamics

Team dynamics can have any number of different components to it. For our purposes, though, let’s focus on three key areas:

1. Communication

Teamwork is about getting everyone onto the same page and pulling together. This cohesion is accomplished through clear communication that delineates roles, sets team objectives, and brokers peace when disputes arise.

How communication links to effective sprint planning: Sprint planning is a part of agile scrum methodology and helps set the course for a sprint. At the conclusion of the sprint planning meeting, the team should possess the capability to clearly express the sprint's objective and delineate their approach to accomplishing the set goals.

With clear communication, a team will exit sprint planning ready to tackle the 2-4 week (or however long) sprint and make the most of their time. They’re more likely to meet their goals and objectives, whatever they’re hoping to upgrade in their software.

How communication links to B2B marketing strategies: It can be easy to be haphazard in B2B marketing, with different messaging across different channels. This misaligned communication might seem relatively benign, though, as noted in this guide to B2B marketing strategy, it’s not an advisable best practice.

“At the core of any successful B2B marketing strategy is a clear market position and messaging map,” the guide noted. And this work isn’t just done by any single individual or department, with the guide adding, “Market positioning is not a job for marketing to figure out – it’s a collaborative process across teams.”

Different teams will need to communicate clearly and respect their dynamics in order to craft clear B2B market messaging and positioning.

2. Leadership

In the sports world, no team manages itself, whether it’s five-year-olds playing Little League or a professional juggernaut that wins multiple World Series. The same goes for the corporate world, with transformative leaders needed to elevate teams of talented individuals.

How leadership links to effective sprint planning: Teams must gather different inputs before a sprint planning meeting. Some of these inputs, such as product backlog items (PBIs) or product roadmaps, might be easy enough for any member of the team to gather. Other inputs, however, such as assessing team capabilities, might be better done by leadership.

Good leaders set teams up for successful sprints. They recognize who on their team can execute the best parts of the sprint. They also help facilitate working relationships between different team members during the sprints, which can be stressful.

How leadership links to B2B marketing strategies: Common challenges within B2B marketing include budget allocation and fostering good relationships. Leadership can help with each of these challenges. They can be a bolder voice in committing enough dollars for B2B marketing initiatives, a common issue—on average, B2B marketers get about 10% of their company’s revenues. A good leader can also set the tone for building relationships.

3. Roles

Respecting team dynamics is about paving the way for people with different specialties to collaborate.

How roles link to effective sprint planning: Picture a development team in the thick of a sprint. A software engineer is in the trenches with code. A support person for the team emails stakeholders within the company to let everyone know how things are going. A great boss for the team is out buying pizzas to get everyone going.

On the one hand, whoever is closest to the actual software development during the sprint might have the most specialized role. But everyone on the team for a sprint will bring something of value, and a diverse assortment of roles will help ensure success.

How roles link to B2B marketing strategies: A B2B marketing campaign at even a small business might have team members representing various roles.

To use terms coined by Belbin, a resource investigator might identify funding streams for the campaign. Meanwhile, a shaper might craft the campaign itself, while a monitor-evaluator could be set up to track metrics associated with campaign performance.

With so many different roles, cross-functional alignment is key to crafting B2B marketing plans.

Why It’s Useful in Any Sector

We’ve spent much of this post discussing how team dynamics apply to B2B marketing strategy and sprint planning in software development. However, team dynamics can be a component of just about any field of business.

After all, it’s good to know that teams can do that work, whether they’re staffing a fast-food drive-thru or a Fortune 500 company. The same team dynamics can guide either operation to success.

3 Ways to Enhance Team Dynamics (and Performance)

Achieving good team dynamics isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry process, with the field evolving over the years. Even field pioneer Belbin, 97 as of this writing, has done more work in the decades since publishing his landmark book.

That said, here are three ways to enhance team dynamics, which can pave the way for boosting performance:

  1. Encourage feedback: When teams work together, they aren’t just going to combine skill sets and personalities. They’ll also notice one another doing different things, good and bad. Good leaders can promote constructive feedback so that teams can keep one another accountable, which has many tangible benefits.
  2. Do strength assessments: Teams can sometimes self-select, with members attesting to what they bring to the table. While self-awareness is an admirable trait, it can also be useful to have team members complete assessments like the Clifton StrengthsFinder to determine where they might fit on a team qualitatively;
  3. Don’t get too obsessed with perfection: Teams run smoothly when groups of skilled individuals come together and work harmoniously. But there will be times when even the best teams have their issues or fall short. And that’s okay. In business, as in life, a team is less defined by a setback than how it responds.
FAQs
See the most answers to the most frequently asked questions. You can find even more information in the knowledge base.
Knowledge base

Team dynamics refer to the interactions and relationships between members of a team, influencing how they work together to achieve common goals. They are crucial because they enhance productivity, innovation, and overall success by leveraging diverse skill sets and personalities.

Team dynamics enable organizations to capitalize on individual strengths, foster collaboration, and adapt to complex challenges more effectively. By leveraging diverse talents and fostering positive interpersonal relationships, teams can achieve greater innovation and productivity, driving overall success.

The key aspects of team dynamics include communication, leadership, and roles. Clear communication ensures alignment and coordination among team members, effective leadership guides and supports the team, and defined roles capitalize on individual strengths and contributions.

Teams can enhance their dynamics and performance by encouraging feedback among members to promote accountability, conducting strength assessments like the Clifton StrengthsFinder to optimize team composition, and maintaining perspective by not fixating on perfection but focusing on continuous improvement and resilience.

Flowlu Team
Flowlu Team
March 22, 2024
9 min read
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