Velas Coaching

5 Click Accelerators to Increase Team Effectiveness

team-handsHow do teams form and why are some teams better than others? How are some relationships more effective than others? The short answer is that people who connect better tend to be more successful, have more friends, and team effectiveness increases. The proverbial question is why are some teams more successful than others? What makes them different? It comes down to forming relationships that “click”.

Relationships are critical, At Stanford University MBA (renown for its courses in finance, statistics, economics), the most popular course is ‘Interpersonal Dynamics’ – it recognizes the importance of relationships in business.

Interestingly research at Google recently concluded that what distinguished the ‘‘good” teams from the dysfunctional groups was how teammates treated one another.  Read the NY Times article here.

Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman in their book Click, have researched and outlined 5 “click accelerators” that build rapport and help people work better together. Form meaningful relationships and that eventually will help the team to be connected and be more effective.

  1. Vulnerability: When we are willing to share our fears, weaknesses, and dreams, we expose ourselves at an emotional level, which in turn builds trust. It’s only when we share how we feel about something that we begin to engage with others on a deeper level. This is the principal behind the typical team building exercise, “Tell us something about yourself that nobody knows.” The challenge is that most people are wary of exposing themselves, so this particular exercise is ineffective and rarely attains the desired outcome. In Click, the authors talked about a particular exercise they conducted in which one of them ran a workshop with leading CEOs who wanted to help make a difference. He started off by asking them to describe the best and worst moments of their lives. Through discussing the worst moments and becoming vulnerable, the team was able to connect truly.
  2. Proximity: People who work in proximity with each other feel more emotionally connected. To illustrate, the Brafmans quoted a research project in which MIT’s Sloan school studied work teams inside organizations. The experiment showed that teams working closely together liked each other more and experienced less task-related conflicts than teams who were spread out. Proximity allowed for daily “banter,” the exchange that oils the wheels of work relationships and prepares team members for solidarity in tougher conversations. These findings are interesting, and they pose a challenge to virtual teams who are less likely to click. One of the most significant findings of MIT’s experiments was that proximity leads to spontaneous communication, or “small talk,” about the weather, traffic, etc. These personal conversations eventually turn to work, and that is where the magic happens. It’s important, therefore, to make sure virtual teams feel close to each other and connected on a personal level.
  3. Resonance: The more we connect emotionally or energetically with a person, the deeper the resonance. Being “in the zone” with a teammate is a powerful level of connection that leads to productivity on a different level—resonation. Research has uncovered that people who “mirror” or “match” other people’s body language (and their emotional & energy state) tend to resonate more with others. This is because they naturally (and unconsciously) have a desire to connect. Even a simple, appropriate touch, such as on the shoulder or arm, can increase resonance and lead to a closer connection. So, how do you achieve resonance with team members? You meet them on equal ground, where you are neither superior nor inferior. Allow them to be who they are. Be authentic and attentive, and always aware of the feelings of others. It’s about them, not you.
  4. Similarity: The Brafmans included a series of experiments and examples to show how people connect on a different level if they share similarities. The authors claim to have found that the higher the number of similarities between two people, the greater the likelihood of them liking one another. I was intrigued by one particular example cited in the book: Participants in the exercise were asked for a donation to cystic fibrosis. The person asking for the donation wore a name badge bearing the same name as the participant they were requesting donations. Donations from this group were double from the control group, where no name badge was worn. These results show that finding a connection between you and your team members will increase the level of “clickness” and the possibilities of creating a much more meaningful and productive relationship. When you meet someone for the first time, find out what you share and capitalize on it to increase the likelihood that you will “click.”
  5. Safety: The safer we feel with another person or environment, the more likely we are to open up. Likewise, if team members feel safe within the team, the team will perform better. The key to creating a safe environment is allowing people to be vulnerable and building team trust. The greater the trust, the stronger the bond, and if that trust is violated, the team will disintegrate. To illustrate, the Brafmans cited a study of string quartets, done by Murningham & Conlon. The study found that some quartets worked better than others: “One of the key conclusions they found was the level of communication between the four players (both talking and critically listening). Communication built a deeper emotional understanding and connection. They supported each other but were also able to handle the difficult conversations when it mattered. And those quartets that clicked recorded more albums received 5x the level of reviews, and were able to charge twice the level of admission.”

Teams are critical to organizations today. The level on which they operate will determine the success or failure of business initiatives. It’s important, therefore, to allow and encourage a team building approach that will help team members click and become more effective. Great teams are built on trust, communication, confidence, and the will to succeed. In the words of philosopher Sun Tzu, “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combination of these give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”

Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD

Luis is a leadership coach, employee engagement expert, and management trainer. Formerly a University professor and research scientist, Luis holds a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University; and an MBA in Organizational Leadership.

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