together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is
a very important part of working life, team dynamics can have a big impact on
profitability of an organization, whether people enjoy their work, staff
retention rates, performance of team and individual, reputation of company, the way a team works and many others. However, team dynamics are often neglected or ignored; they
are the unconscious, psychological forces that influence the direction of behaviour
and performance of team. Being created by the nature of the team work, the
personalities within the team, their working relationships with other people,
and the environment in which the team works, they can be good – for example,
when they improve overall team performance and/or get the best out of
individual team members, and also bad – for example, when they cause
unproductive conflict, demotivation, and prevent the team from achieving its
There are different models
used to describe team dynamics. Some of them describe the psychological
aspects, such as:
§ Group dynamics (Lewin) which considers how people interact
and common perceptions that arise within a group.
§ Psychoanalysis (Freud and Bion) which is concerned with
the (natural) defensive behaviours of team members.
§ FIRO/Human Elements (Schutz) which considers
the compatibility between people using behaviours of inclusion, control,
openness, and how those behaviours relate to inner feelings of significance,
competence, and likeability.
§ The Tuckman model considers five
stages of development for a team – forming, storming, norming, performing and
§ Team Roles such as MTR-i or Belbin examine how team
performance is related to nine psychological roles taken by different team
§ Personality type theories, such as Myers
Briggs, Disc, Herrmann Brain Dominance, consider how the different preferences
of team members affect their interactions and team performance.
§ Team Islands and In/Out groups, showing how sub-teams
can form as a result of members having different characteristics or being
separated by a geographical boundary.
On the other hand, there are other
models that have an important bearing on team dynamics and performance, but are
not typically included in definitions of group dynamics:
§ Models of
such as Hofstede which considers five cultural factors: power distance,
uncertainty avoidance, individualism/collectivism, masculine/feminine, and
leadership and management processes,
such as performance management, appraisal, reward/recognition, and individual
leadership or management practices (e.g. Situational Leadership).
§ Methodologies for different aspects of team functioning,
such as project management (e.g. Prince2), business process reengineering (e.g.
LEAN), collective problem solving, running meetings, information sharing,
communication, desk instructions, etc.
types of organisational structure,
including hierarchical, functional, matrix, network, cross-functional teams,
working parties, etc.
§ Stakeholder models, including governance structure,
customer forums and feedback, representative groups (e.g. unions), etc.
These are relevant to team
dynamics because they can all have a hidden but significant impact on the way a
team interacts and performs.
It was studied by key theorists such as Gustave Le Bon, William
McDougall, Sigmund Freud, Jacob L. Moreno, Kurt Lewin, William
Schutz, Wilfred Bion, Bruce
Tuckman, M. Scott Peck, Richard Hackman and others.
Bruce Tuckman published his Forming (pretending to get on or get along with
others) Storming (letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get
down to the issues even if tempers flare up) Norming (getting used to
each other and developing trust and productivity) Performing (working in
a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis)
model in 1965 and refined his theory around 1975 and added a fifth stage – Adjourning
to the model, which is also referred to as Deforming and Mourning.
As team members have different
viewpoints and, under the right set of circumstances, those differences
escalate to conflict and how to handle that conflict determines whether it
works to the advantage of team, or contributes to its demise. Resolving
conflict is multi stage process which includes:
Acknowledge the conflict
Discuss the impact
Agree to a cooperative process
Agree to communicate
List facts, assumptions and beliefs underlying each position
Analyze in smaller groups
Convene back as a team
method to be used to resolve conflict / dispute will depend upon personal needs
and the nature of particular conflict / dispute. Ways to resolve disputes can be negotiation, mediation, arbitration,
litigation (going to court) and others.