Understand Teams

Understanding a team can often seem to be far more challenging than trying to understand another individual human being because there are now more people to understand. And all these people in the team, no matter how big or small the team is, have their own individual perspectives, which will be influencing their instinctive biases and assumptions. This can naturally seem quite overwhelming, so the instinctive response is usually to view a team as a homogenous unit, rather than a group of individuals, coalescing around a common purpose.

Viewing a team as a homogenous unit, rather than as a group of individuals working together, is the fundamental cause of misunderstanding a team and its potential to perform. The reason using this simplistic view of a team as a homogenous unit is simply because that is much easier to do than to view it as a collection of individuals who may be challenging enough to understand individually, never mind working dynamically as a group.

The usual outcome of viewing a team as a homogenous unit is a reduced level of engagement from the individuals within the team because seeing the team as a homogenous unit usually means that an individual or small group of individuals will establish a single perspective based on their individual assumptions and opinions, and then try to influence or force others in the team to adopt this perspective.

This may work well in a more command-and-control type of environment, such as a military unit, but most teams in a contemporary organisation consist of a variety of individuals, some full-time staff, some contractors, some consultants, some preferred suppliers, all with different allegiances and perspectives. Viewing a team as a homogenous unit and trying to understand that team by ‘forming, storming, norming, performing’ usually results in a very normal team that produces very normal performances.

You can never really successfully understand a team by simplistically viewing it as a homogenised unit. You may achieve some understanding of the team by gaining an understanding of the individuals in the team but the way to really understand a team is to work with the connections between the individuals who comprise a team. The team is not an object, it is a process and that process is the fundamental flow, that feedforward and feedback loop across the interpersonal boundaries of the team members.

Using Archegyral processes to actively work with the connections between team members enables them to make much more sense of any tensions that they may be experiencing across interpersonal boundaries. Instead of just trying to avoid or endure these interpersonal tensions, working with boundary tensions enables you to understand how your team can naturally become in more effective in producing outcomes that consistently amplify individual contributions. If you really want to understand a team, you really have to work with the connections between the individuals in the team. Those connections are your team. Working with these connections enables you to really understand the range of different talent and potential that is present in the team, so you can all collectively make a powerful difference.