At AssessmentWorld we researched some of the most recent publishings on team functioning, and deduced ten specific competency sets, which are applicable in the 'new remote world of work'. We are of the opinion that there is no specific hierarchy of factors, but rather a continuous interaction of said in order to enhance team functioning:
Teams are defined as a group of people with different skills and different tasks, who work together on a common project, service, or goal, with a synergy of functions and mutual support. Teams present in various shapes, sizes, compilations, such as, small and agile project teams, a large organisational divisions, specific department, elite special operations units, professional sports teams or high-functioning business organizations. All high-performance and expert teams, notwithstanding their size, function/s, etc., share similar attributes. They have high levels of internal trust and accountability, communicate openly, are diverse, cooperate freely, share decision-making and leadership, manage change more successfully, have resilient mindsets, and the like. They are more sustainable, have higher levels of engagement and therefore efficiency. High-performance business organisations, driven by expert and excellent teams, operate under a clear vision and mission narrative, have greater degrees of employee and customer satisfaction and retention, grow more quickly (and intelligently) and are more profitable.
The Team Expert Functioning Questionnaire (TEFQ), measures an individual's functioning within and view/experience of the teams functioning based on 10 factor sets:
Communication-Openness refers to all the positive characteristics associated with clear and open communication, empathy, clarification of messages, reduction of 'noise', such as prejudice, inclusive communication, honest and frank management of differences, etc. Teams characterised by such communication practices, function with full understanding of their roles and tasks, objectives, and have full access to information and individuals to assist, if and when needed.
Cooperation-Phlegmatism is a team functioning factor, which describes cooperation amongst team members, as well as with 'intersecting' teams and people, such as line managers. Part of this factor then describes the type of personality/characteristics needed to enhance this cooperation. Positive phelgmatism is a set of personality/character traits which describe said persons as those who practise acceptance, humour, flexibility, good-nature, calmness, stolidity, absence of excitability, and the like. Positive cooperation-phlegmatism teams are characterised by high levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, relaxed, yet productive work atmosphere, effective problem-solving, sense of belonging, etc.
Planning-Decision making from an expert team perspective, includes behaviours such as joint planning and decision-making, problem-solving acceptance of co-responsibility and accountability. It also involves operating with clearly understood team and individual objectives, KPA's, KPI's, and the measurements for their success. Members of such teams have the freedom to make decisions about projects, capabilities, and colleagues etc, which are well within reason of course. This freedom to plan and make the necessary decisions without having to constantly seek management permission, allows high-performance/expert teams to produce extraordinary results.
Leadership-Roles-Responsibilities refers to clearly structured leadership approaches and consistency, inclusive of a shared leadership approach in the team. The factor also includes clearly defined and practised roles and responsibilities of all team members, underpinned by self-leadership behaviours, such as, intrinsic motivation, self-inspiration, and influencing of others towards goal achievement.
Competency-Personal development as an expert team factor, implies that team members possess of, and operate with the highest level of relevant competencies. In such an environment, all individuals take full responsibility for their personal development, regarding their skills and competencies. Even the best teams have room to grow. High-performing expert teams value feedback and learn from their 'unsuccessful' efforts. They look for opportunities to grow and develop by instilling a constructive feedback culture, and investing in ongoing employee development. Continuous learning drives growth, and stimulates higher levels of achievement and excellence.
Team spirit-Trust is when a team really feel invested in reaching a goal together, and are there to support each other, i.e. they feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the members, enabling them to cooperate and work well together. A vital catalyst here, is trust, which is defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone. The high-performing expert team understands that trust has a direct impact on productivity, engagement and success. Integrity, honesty and transparency, some of the fundamental drivers of trust, are vital for engendering high levels of team spirit-trust. Teams characterised by all these factors and elements of team spirit and trust, have the freedom to pursue objectives, make bold decisions and take the necessary risks to succeed.
Culture-Interpersonal includes the team's collective and synthesised expectations, experiences, philosophy, as well as the values that guide member behavior, expressed in member self-image, inner workings, interactions with others outside of the team boundaries, and future expectations. Culture is based on shared and accepted attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid in a specific team. In the team environment this encompasses all interpersonal behaviours, interactions and patterns (culture) such as courteousness, helpfulness, respect, timeous-ness, conflict resolution, inclusive communication, accountability, interpersonal ethics, etc.
Performance-Rewards-Engagement refers to an invisible continuum that exists in any organisation and team. High-performance expert teams drive excellent performance via, amongst others, their competency sets, knowledge, experience, team spirit and culture. The members are intrinsically motivated, yet thrive in an environment where fair extrinsic recognition and reward systems are prevalent. These do have an enhancing effect on team performance, and adds to, yet is not solely responsible for high levels of team engagement. The latter, in high-performance expert team environments, is rather based on normative versus remunerative engagement factors.
Composition-Diversity speaks of optimal composition of a team in terms of its size, location, structure, skills/competency sets, personalities, experience, and the like. Most teams in the workplace are not pre-selected according to the afore stated 'criteria'. They are often the result of management decisions to arbitrarily compose a team for a specific purpose, by using existing human capital in the organisation - a 'forced marriage', if you like. Over time though, even these teams can develop high-performance expert team characteristics such as trust, engagement, leadership, culture, etc. Diversity, within the composition factor, includes a myriad of elements, such as, gender, generation, race, religion, competency, knowledge, experience, etc. The ultimate goal is to compose a diverse team for performance, as opposed to one for 'face value', i.e., merely to tick the diversity box. High-performance expert teams are especially strengthened when diverse views, competencies, knowledge and experience enable it to constantly 'freshen'/renew its thinking and approaches to projects and tasks.
Efficacy-Purpose-Vision describes a factor built on a shared and aligned team vision. This creates purpose for said team, which it can only achieve if it bases its actions on efficacy, i.e., the ability to produce a desired or intended result. The latter achieved via the practising of all the high-performance expert team functioning factors mentioned in this report, namely: Communication-Openness, Cooperation-Phlegmatism, Planning-Decision making, Leadership-Roles-Responsibilities, Competency-Personal development, Team spirit-Trust, Culture-Interpersonal, Performance-Rewards-Engagement, and Composition-Diversity.
Team Expert Functioning Index - TEFI is a composite index compiled by including all the 10 team functioning factors described. It provides an indication of how an individual employee/team member functions within/views/experiences the team they are currently involved with. The TEFI score could be used as an indicator of the team functioning 'wellness', as experienced by the specific employee/team member.