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How does your team co-ordinate, and is it effective?

So much of our clients’ focus on performance is around teams and coaching them to be more self-aware and understand their dynamics. So, an article in HBR by Roger Schwarz, called Is Your Team Co-ordinating Too Much, or Not Enough caught my eye.

By Jo Ayoubi

The research by Roger Schwarz covers two main areas, how teams’ co-ordinate and how they think they co-ordinate. The underlying theory is that of task interdependence, pooled, sequential and reciprocal.

Interdependence models

In summary, in pooled interdependence, the team accomplishes its goal simply by combining everyone’s separate efforts, as in a sales team, or a team of estate agents or managers of separate client projects.

In sequential interdependence, each person relies on the completion of the previous task by their colleague, and then pick it up to complete and pass on to the next team member.

In reciprocal interdependence, team members work back and forth, in a dependence on each other, in complex projects with changing specifications, client requirements and so on.

How do you know what type of team you’re working in? And as a team manager, how do you know if you’ve got the right interdependence in place?

‘You can tell when a team doesn’t have a good fit between interdependence and co-ordination. If there isn’t enough co-ordination, team members have difficulty getting information from each other, completing tasks and making decisions. If there is more co-ordination than is required, team members will spend unnecessary time and effort on tasks, which slows the team down’.

The other issue is whether your team understands how much interdependence or co-ordination is needed – and there will be consequences aligned to their level of understanding.

Redesign the team

So why does this matter? Because by getting this right you are clearing the decks for your team to be more effective and more informed.

Getting your team to talk about these things, and redesigning the team, can be a powerful tool.  So how can you do this?

Ask the team! By asking individual team members some questions about their perceptions of interdependence and co-ordination in their team, how frequently they are supported or held back by the design and expectations of the team, and putting these together, you can get a clear picture of areas of agreement and disconnect, between team members, and between them and the team leader.

Use this to discuss how the team really does work, what levels of interdependence there really are, and how much communication and co-ordination is really needed.

To find out more about positive solutions that shift your company forward, based on the feedback and the interaction of team members, contact Track on +44(0)20 8360 4455 or drop us an email here.