Frances finds that having fun is a big part of building greater engagement with her team. She challenges them to come up with innovative ways to enjoy themselves as a team and learn something new. For example, they chose an art class that included wine and cocktails for the team end-of-year function. Everyone received lessons in basic art and colours and then attempted doing their own painting. Even people who thought they did not have an artistic bone in their body learned that they had a creative side. It was a great leveller for a diverse team of ages and genders. They learned to trust and encourage each other and they were safe being vulnerable. People now display their artworks with pride on their office walls as a reminder to themselves and their colleagues of the bond they formed from the end-of-year event.
Fun activities like these have resulted in higher engagement levels in Frances’ group. Her team members are prepared to go the extra mile, when the chips are down. Her conscious emphasis on having fun brings her team together, but the benefits go beyond higher engagement scores. The team sees her being open to learning something new in front of them, and that makes her more accessible. When she seeks constructive feedback from her team, they are more likely to trust her and provide it. Leaders often say they are open to feedback, but people can spot their defensiveness. The sense of shared fun they have in their work also gives Frances the ability to have the tough conversations and hold people to account to keep their side of the bargain. They trust her and know that she has their best interests at heart.
Google discovered how important team dynamics can be in a major initiative code-named Project Aristotle. They wanted to discover why some of their teams succeeded and others failed. In the New York Times article What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team, by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, Charles Duhigg, the Google researchers summarized their results by concluding that what separated high-performing teams from dysfunctional ones was not the composition of the teams, but “how members of the team treated one another.”
“Employees talked about how it felt to be in a good team, citing enthusiasm for one another’s ideas, joking around and having fun which allowed everyone to feel relaxed and energized.”
🙋🏻♂️ How do you cultivate high-performing team dynamics?🙋🏻♀️
Best regards, Brian