There is a marked difference between high-performing teams and the rest. While this has been the subject of much study and research, It is also the bane of the under-performing managers and leaders. The key communication elements for high-performing teams have been identified and we explore them in simple terms for emerging leaders to implement. Success and performance are not rocket science, it comes from the simple process of awareness, actions, and accountability. Leaders who implement simple steps, like the ones we propose here, will take big strides towards sustainable high performance.
The research conducted by Human Dynamics Laboratory has given a clear insight into the important communication elements that build successful performance in teams. The basic premise of the research dissected the essence of a team’s communication and related it back to the performance of the team. The results were insightful. In fact, teams saw a 35% improvement in productivity and performance. Thats an amazing increase by being intentional about what some may seem obvious. It may seem obvious, but we know that many leaders are not intentional about the things needed to level up their team.
Let’s break it down to help you understand the power of the research.
They found that there are three key communication elements that teams fundamentally engage in. The three elements are:
Energy – Engagement – Exploration
Energy was defined and measured by the number and the nature of exchanges amongst team members. It could be a nod, a comment, or an exchange of information. The sheer weight and number of exchanges between team members raise the communication energy within the team.
The engagement was defined and measured by the distribution of energy amongst the team members. The energy is made of the number and nature of exchanges, and engagement includes how this is distributed. How many team members contribute and are part of the energy?
The dimension of exploration measured the levels of communication team members engaged in outside of the team. Communicating outside of teams builds networks, provides a fresh perspective, and is seen more in creative teams than operational teams. Exploration is a key dimension for providing a fresh perspective.
The Key Communication Elements to Build Great Teams
The main goal of an emerging leader is to build high-performing teams. And while it has been determined that these three elements of communication are important, it’s important to focus on what we control. In that way, we will dive into the Energy and Engagement elements, not because Exploration isn’t as important but simply because many emerging leaders and their teams, don’t have the opportunity for communication outside of their team.
It’s a Balancing Act.
It’s time to get clear on what Energy and Engagement look like in a communication context. Simply put the following applies.
Introduction: why effective communication is key for high-performing teams
Energy – The number of communication aspects, eg nods, winks, comments, opinions etc
Engagement – the distribution contribution of the communication. Think of this as the contribution and involvement.
Findings indicate that teams that have high levels of energy and engagement are consistently outperforming the teams that don’t. They have high levels of communication among all members of the team. Can you picture the vibrancy of the team? Can you visualize the energy and engagement flow?
But don’t be fooled. Energy and engagement work hand in hand. Balance is important.
Check This Scenario
Let’s say you have a team within a team. A group of your team members is closer than other members, in fact, some of your team members are exceptionally quiet and keep to themselves. In circumstances like this, a team may have high levels of communication energy, but be very low in engagement due to the simple fact that communication energy is focused on a small number of the team members.
The imbalance between energy and engagement has a negative impact on performance. So while the energy may be high, it is not balanced across the team, creating voids and isolation.
The key finding here is that unbalanced teams are often outperformed by teams that are low in energy and engagement. The balance is important. Reflect on where your team sits in the balance between energy and engagement, and think about the communication dynamics at play.
Actions to Improve the Key Communication Elements
It is important for leaders to acknowledge where their teams sit when it comes to the relationship between energy and engagement. There is a clear relationship between teams with healthy communication dynamics and high performance. The importance of this can not be underestimated.
Increase Energy Levels
Increasing energy levels involves increasing opportunities for positive interactions. Face-to-face communication is always the preferred option for positive communication interactions, followed by the new online video chat, phone calls with emails, and texts bringing up the rear.
For leaders, that means finding opportunities for communication amongst the team, both formal and informal aspects. Increasing the times when your team can meet, informally and formally is important to lift the energy. I know this may sound counterintuitive, but how many of your team share their breaks together? This increases the opportunity for informal energy and communication which flows into more formal work-focussed communication.
Remember, the impact of communication energy is to increase the performance of the team. Again, there is a requirement to ensure that performance is not inhibited by too much and that energy of communications doe
Increase Engagement Levels
To increase engagement, you have to focus on contribution and involvement. Engaging the entire team is of primary importance to bring the whole team on your journey. Whether it’s a meeting with all the team, team building activities, or just general routine business discussions, seek contribution, ask open questions and ensure that as much as possible, everyone is involved.
Once a leader has improved the key communication elements of energy and engagement, that’s when you can commence the strategy to enhance the exploration piece of the puzzle. Focus on what you can control, then think about how to increase the networking capabilities of your team
Every leader wants to build great teams, but not every leader will have the intention and desire to do so. The findings from Human Dynamics Laboratory indicate that it isn’t rocket science to build great teams, but it doesn need action of intent and desire. The key communication elements form a major part of the puzzle, create energy and drive engagement in communication. That way you start the process of building great teams.
If you are an emerging leader and you truly want to build high-performing teams, reach out and see how valuable our leadership coaching can be for you. Many companies will offer you the opportunity for coaching to enhance your performance, it is sometimes simply asking. If not, most coaching is tax deductable and the investment in your career will pay off in a time shorter than you may think. Contact us today.