Want People to Try Harder on Work Teams? Focus On These 3 Perceptions

In a new article for Training magazine, Jim Diehl and I share the results of a 1,300-person study of teams in today’s work environment. The survey results reveal there’s much work to be done: only 27 percent of respondents said their teams perform at top levels a majority of the time.  Millennials scored their team experiences the lowest—only 17 percent said their teams operate at optimum levels a majority of the time.

The nature of teamwork in today’s organizations is evolving. Our research shows that both team leaders and team members have a key role to play in this evolution. As a part of our survey we asked people to identify the conditions that impact the level of effort they put into the teams they work on. (See Figure 1: My Personal Effort Depends On))

When it came to conditions that affect how much personal effort individuals put into their role as a team member, the top three statements respondents most agreed with were:

  • Whether I trust the other team members
  • The level of support I get from my team leader
  • Whether or not team members are allowed to share opposing opinions and disagree with each other
 Figure 1: My Personal Effort Depends On 


Implications for Leadership, Learning, and Talent Development Professionals

The amount of support a team receives also impacts overall effectiveness. The survey found that the highest performing teams enjoy greater levels of support in general, as well as higher levels of training for both team members and team leaders. (See figure 2.)

Figure 2: Training and Support

For organizations looking to improve team training, Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, a founding partner and teams expert with The Ken Blanchard Companies, suggests training and development professionals be proactive and model an inclusive learning attitude.

“Involve others in crafting a clear purpose, as well as values and goals, for your teams. Have leaders follow through by reinforcing what was agreed upon, demonstrating supportive behaviors, and walking the talk,” she explains.

“Talk openly. Create an environment of safety and trust where people are comfortable speaking out about improving team performance without worrying about upsetting the status quo.

“Take action. Some leaders need to learn how to let go. Don’t wait for someone else to decide it’s time to collaborate—everyone is responsible for creating a collaborative environment.”

When people are busy, it’s normal for them to want to focus on getting their individual work done. To combat this urge, Parisi-Carew reminds us of an old adage: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

You can learn more about the results of the Blanchard/Training magazine survey by accessing the full article in the July/August issue. After studying the survey results, training and development professionals will have not only a target to shoot for but also recommended first steps to take as they look to create or enhance team training programs in their organizations.


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