This is the third post in a series of practical tips on how to successfully adopt Microsoft Teams in your workplace.
Nirvana for teams is one where leadership can be shared across all members; members are all connected to each other by frequent two-way interactions; enabling the team to swiftly adapt to new conditions and sustain a consistently high level of productivity. Team outcomes are owned by the whole team and not just one or two members.
In reality, few teams reach this ideal state of 100% two-way relationships (reciprocity). Obviously, the larger the team the harder it is to achieve this state. Even for smaller teams it is more common to see a small core of 2–4 members that are connected through strong two-way relationships, with a periphery of other members selectively connected into the core via two-way connections.
Our early stage benchmarking of Microsoft Teams sites shows this clear reverse correlation between team size and %two-way relationships:
Note that the trend line swings up around the magic maximum team size of 10 members. We can’t emphasise enough the importance of the reciprocity in teams that the %two-way measure represents. This recent UGM briefing on the virtuous contributing-belonging cycle and its importance to creating high productivity teams reinforces this.
The data also warns us that just being small does not guarantee reciprocity and cohesion. There are still many small teams with low levels of reciprocity. Cohesion doesn’t come for free. As the UGM briefing suggests, it is something you have to work at.
The Anatomy of an Aspiring Self-Directed Team
The following profile continues our case study example from our prior post on Team Forming and Storming. After 12 months the team has moved towards becoming an effective self-directed team:
This team has 15 active members (no gallery). Some observations are:
- There is a strong core of members, interconnected to each other by two-way interactions.
- There is no gallery, so all members are participating and connected through at least one other team member.
- 8 of the 15 members are well connected within the team, providing a resilient core, should a leader leave the team
- The Team creator has now moved to number 3 on the Key Player dependency list; a clear indicator that team leadership has become fluid.
- This team has been classified as ‘Self-Directed’, meaning there is a strong indication that this team could operate as a self-directed team.
Other SWOOP indicators from our case study example substantially infer that this is a high performing team; most members are Engagers, who tag each other into conversations, thereby sustaining the high levels of reciprocity (Two-way Relationships).
There is a separate widget for %Two-Way that provides the ability to look at trending information. In this case we can see that the trajectory is in the right direction. One area for improvement is the level of questioning (curiosity). Agile teams are highly interactive and incessantly question each other on the status of collective tasks. We can also see that the team is actively using team channels to subset its work; which is important, as 15 members is considered larger than ideal, for a highly productive team.
We have reached Team Nirvana, so what’s next?
Being part of a true self-directed team can be a very fulfilling experience. Members will typically be some of the most engaged employees in the organisation. However, the world never stands still. Members will invariably leave and newcomers will take their place. Teams may even disband once their outcomes have been achieved.
For those of you who have had the good fortune to be part of a highly engaged, self-directed team, you will want to replicate that experience wherever you go. You will not be happy working in any other sort of team. Many of you will already be on multiple teams, and have the facility to share your best ‘teaming’ experiences. For the organisation as a whole, it is not enough to have just a few highly productive teams.
Achieving the extreme ‘teaming’ experience across the whole organisation cannot be achieved through the conventional means of documenting best practices and sharing them broadly. Extreme teaming is a very personal experience that can only be effectively shared through shared experiences; seeing and experiencing how others engage online; mimicking the good habits of others; getting real-time feedback.
In our next article we will explore the concepts of the “Team of Teams” and how organisations can address enterprise-wide productivity through the power of people networks.
Learn more about SWOOP for Teams.