If you’ve ever asked yourself how you can improve team performance, it’s not complicated or mysterious. You can do three simple things today to immediately improve how your team works together. I’ve been writing about how companies can save money, boost performance, and reduce turnover by allowing teams time and space to interact socially (see my previous posts about teams here.)
By carefully recording peoples’ interactions with a Sociometer Device, we’ve learned that team performance depends on human interactions much more than previously thought. The sociometric badge, worn on people’s clothing, measures the tone of voice a person uses, whether people are facing one another while talking, how much they gesture, how much they talk, listen, and interrupt one another.
To remind you, here are some of their findings on the most successful people:
- Successful team members generate a large number of ideas in short contributions to conversations. No one goes on for great length.
- They engage in “dense interactions;” that is, they alternate between advancing their own ideas and responding to the contributions of others with “good,” “right,” “what?” and other short comments that signal consensus on an idea’s value, good or bad.
- Successful members contribute ideas and reactions, taking turns more or less equally, ensuring a wide diversity of ideas.
How can you use this information to become a better team member and increase your value in your organization? Everyone can improve their social sensitivity. When working with your team, try these three approaches:
- Suggest a large number of ideas in short contributions to conversations.
- Engage in “dense interactions”: switch between advancing your own ideas and responding to others’ with “good,” “right,” and other short comments.
- Take conversational turns more or less equally, to make sure everyone contributes a wide diversity of ideas.
What’s required for high team performance is that you observe and shift awareness of your social skills. You can practice doing this with a trusted peer, a mentor, or a professional coach.
Yet be aware that these three elements are not superficial communication techniques that can be applied without examining your mindset and attitudes. For that, you’ll make the most improvements working with a coach.