What is the definition of a team? How is a team different from a group of people? Are you a part of a true team? These topics are rarely discussed but are essential for shaping the right leadership and communication strategies. Everyone wants to manage or be on a “true team.” The goal is to be a part of a high-performance team that can handle any challenges put in the way. However, wanting a high level of team commitment isn’t enough to ensure it happens. That might take a bit of planning and a lot of work.
One of the things that come up is how to measure the important aspects of team commitment: collaboration, connection, and overall success. The most important things to have on a team that goes fantastic work are a great work ethic, a shared sense of purpose, and the same goals.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) argues that a team is a group of people who do collective work and are mutually committed to a common team purpose and challenging goals related to that purpose. Collective work and mutual commitment are the key characteristics. Members of a true team share a genuine conviction that “we” will succeed or fail together, and that no individual can succeed while the team fails. Mutual commitment means that teammates not only think and act collectively, but the social and emotional bonds among them are compelling.
A team of researchers from Technische Universität Braunschweig ran a unique longitudinal study on the effects of the team commitment over time. They uncovered several important findings:
(1) Commitment drives results
Team commitment leads to higher team performance and co-worker altruism.
(2) Team commitment can compensate for other gaps
For example, a lack of overall commitment to the company can be compensated by team commitment. This is important for retention management, especially in larger organizations or subsequent to M&A events.
(3) Building commitment takes time
Team commitment can’t happen immediately. It develops slowly over time when employees reflect on their relationship with their team. Team commitment can be improved by measures such as team-building and involving team members in decision processes.
Many team leaders tend to spend most of their time managing individual by individual, paying little attention to the holistic group dynamics. HBR encourages leaders to manage their teams as a whole while not forgetting to recognize individuals for their distinct contributions. Creating and leading a true team is a crucial management skill whether you lead a permanent group of direct reports or a virtual, highly diverse, widely-dispersed, temporary team created to tackle a specific problem or opportunity.
What are the implications for teams?
Building team commitment is a journey that requires deliberate planning. Shared virtual team experiences provide an opportunity to (1) bring the team members together, (2) inspire them to achieve a common goal, (3) celebrate team successes, and recognize individual contributions.
How to Evaluate Your Level of Team Commitment
When you’re trying to evaluate team commitment, it might seem too abstract to get an answer. However, three questions can be used to get a good gauge of whether you have excellent team commitment or you need to work on it.
- Question #1: Do you trust your team?
- Question #2: Does your team trust you?
- Question #3: Do your team members trust each other?
A high-performing team is one where the answer to all three questions is a resounding yes.
Connect Your Team’s Individual Goals to Company Goals
One of the best ways to foster team connection is by ensuring individual goals are connected with company goals. Each person on the team needs to have a purpose and see how they fit on the team. As a leader, you are the one who needs to ensure that happens.
As you work with each team member, look at what they are working on as an individual. Once you have that answer, look into how their work can support the other people on your team.
When you have individuals with diverse goals who all contribute to the same things, this is going to build a sense of team community and cohesion. It’s a great way to ensure team connection is high and everyone is doing their best.
Input from the Team is Valuable to Build Commitment
For leaders, part of building team commitment means focusing on the thoughts and ideas of your team members. Talk to them about your goal-setting processes and ways to improve communication.
One of the best ways to create team commitment is by listening to feedback. After you have the feedback, you can make changes based on the feedback. When you do this, it helps build more trust between you and the members of your team.
Team Commitment and Employee Retention
Something to be aware of when taking on a better sense of team commitment is that one in three employees does not trust their employees. In addition, more than 50% of CEOs feel the lack of trust is a huge deterrent to the growth of their organization.
Trust can increase productivity, enable conflict resolution, foster innovation, and creativity, and build better collaboration. As you work toward building a “true team,” make sure you follow the tips above to make sure everyone is happy and working toward company success.