If your team never experiences disagreement, debate and dissension, maybe you're doing something wrong. Building a strong team allows for diversity of thought and stylistic differences.
While building a strong team allows for, respects and encourages healthy differences, it also requires managing those differences so they are an asset to the team. Here's how you can shift to make the most of your team's style differences. It starts with three key principles.
Building a Strong Team Requires Balance
Teams that reach an easy agreement have an imbalance of power OR an imbalanced mix of perspectives. Easy agreement comes when people are too afraid to voice dissent or when no one sees things differently.
Neither scenario is healthy for team effectiveness.
Strong teams are balanced by a diversity of opinions from individuals who are able and willing to express those opinions. When teams look at problems from a variety of perspectives, they make better informed and higher quality decisions.
Teams that come to quick decisions may get instant gratification and pat themselves on the back for working efficiently... But this this a temporary effect and can often cause unintended consequences and larger issues over the long term.
Building a Strong Team Requires Vulnerability
Team members on the most effective teams are able to be vulnerable with each other. They express opinions, knowing that others may not immediately agree. They take risks in expressing themselves without fearing they will be attacked. They engage in healthy debate, secure in the knowledge that team relationships will remain intact.
At the root of vulnerability is trust. Strong teams have members who trust each other and work to avoid breaching others' trust.
This begs the question: where does trust come from? The answer is familiarity. Getting to know and understand team members is an essential foundation for trust.
Building a Strong Team Requires Flexibility
With all voices in and team members who are willing to be vulnerable, it's only fair that team members keep an open mind. The point isn't getting people to talk. It's getting people to listen and consider the ideas and input from others.
Being flexible comes more easily to some than to others. That's one style difference team members need to understand about each other. Otherwise, people will disappoint others simply by not behaving in ways that are expected.
To be flexible and more understanding of others styles, teams need to spend time getting acquainted at this level.
To Get Started on Building a Strong Team, Learn about Differences in Style
There are many good assessment tools to help with this. I personally prefer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) because it is comprehensive and doesn't over-simplify in a way that offends some. Rather, it offers a construct for getting acquainted with others (and yourself) in truly meaningful ways.
The MBTI assessment tool helps teams improve communication, conflict resolution, decision making and collaboration. It enables team members to understand how they can leverage their style differences to benefit the team. It provides a language and practical tips for bridging gaps between people.
Best of all, this assessment has helped many teams build a foundation of trust. It's one of our "secret weapons" to build organizational strength by putting people first.
Next Steps for Building a Strong Team by Learning about Style Differences:
- Subscribe to the CONNECT2Win Blog RSS feed if you’d like to receive new posts each Friday to help strengthen your team.
- Download one of our eBooks “What Is Team Effectiveness & How Can We Get Some for Our Team? Stat!” or “How to Build Effective Teams: Insights on Workplace Team Building from 30 Top Experts“
- Bring Deb for a team workshop using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or other tools that focus on appreciating and leveraging differences in style. Book a free consultation with Deb. No cost, no obligation.
The blog for everyone who works with anyone
Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, the company that helps you build organizational strength by putting people first. Book Deb today to facilitate critical team meetings, to speak at your leadership or team events, to conduct retreats or workshops to improve team effectiveness, or to work with you as an executive coach.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published December 2016 and has been recently updated..