Building High-Performing Groups: socialization, norms, and roles.

Building High-Performing Groups

Building High-Performing Groups: socialization, norms, and roles.

In today’s fast-paced corporate world, building high-performing groups is crucial for organizations striving to achieve success. These groups not only maximize productivity but also foster a positive and collaborative culture within the workplace. Effective team building and group development rely on three key founding elements: socialization, norms, and roles. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of these elements and provide practical tips for group leaders to implement them within their teams.


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The Founding Elements of High-Performing Groups:

Socialization:

Socialization is the first step in the process of building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging within a group. More importantly, though, it is a vital element that helps team members connect on a personal level, promoting trust, open communication, and collaboration. This in turn enables a group to be more productive and achieve results beyond expectations. In a high-performing team, the individual members work harder for each other (rather than because the boss told them to) out of loyalty and respect for one another, rather than seeking only individual convenience or glory. This is typical in elite military groups like the American Navy Seals, or elite sports teams, when the bonds of trust between people are more important than anything else. Group leaders should encourage socialization by organizing team-building activities, such as retreats, off-site events, or regular social gatherings. In recent years, many teams or organizations have erroneously undervalued these types of interactions and perceived this as unproductive fun which should just be limited to outside working hours and be privately arranged between employees.  But there have been numerous studies where the data is quite clear on this, with organizations seeing as much as an 80% increase in success because of a socially integrated workforce.  Ignoring this fundamental element then does more harm than good when in pursuit of excellence, and then no one wins.

Practical tips for implementing socialization:

  • Organize regular team-building activities that encourage collaboration and interaction, both inside and outside the workplace, as well as working hours; this lends itself to the idea that management also see workers as people that have needs beyond their job and not just numbers on a spreadsheet producing profit.
  • Create opportunities for informal conversations, such as coffee breaks or lunch outings; this is the very oil that keeps the machine working and is why companies such as Google became aspirational organizations to work for.
  • Foster a culture of open communication and active listening, with an emphasis on psychological safety, which allows people to open up and give the best of who they are.
  • Celebrate personal milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, and work-related achievements to strengthen bonds within the group; celebrating the successes as well as grieving the losses as a team helps people feel a deeper sense of connection to one another and the organization.
  • Encourage cross-departmental collaboration to foster a sense of unity across the company and strengthen the bonds of trust amongst other parts of the organizational system; your team is not the only group in the system that matters.  Improving relationships with other groups prevents silos forming and a “Them vs Us” mindset, which is a toxic mindset.

Norms:

Norms are the shared expectations and standards of behaviour within a group. They serve as informal guidelines that shape the group’s culture, communication, and decision-making processes; in other words, the norms are what make up the unique “flavour” of the group. Establishing clear norms helps group members understand what is expected of them and creates a supportive environment for collaboration. Group leaders play a crucial role in defining and reinforcing these norms.  It is easy for leaders to overlook this crucial element within their team’s identity and become complacent with things being done “just so”, without any assessment of whether there are damaging or limiting behaviours that are having an adverse impact upon the performance of the group.  The reason it’s so difficult for group leaders is because it means examining the little things that happen on a day-to-day basis.  Things such as knowing when to email and when to phone someone to deliver a message, what is considered appropriate meeting etiquette, or how do members of the group address individual grievances or achievements.  All these everyday little things have a big impact on how well the group functions as a whole, and it is the responsibility of the leader to analyse and guide these behaviours towards effective outcomes.

To establish effective norms, leaders should:

  • Involve the whole group in developing norms collectively, allowing for ownership and commitment from everyone; it is a lot harder for team members to buy-in to these guidelines if they have not been part of the decision-making process and discussion.
  • Clearly communicate the established norms, emphasizing the importance of adherence; this should not be done just once, but the norms should be reinforced regularly so that everyone remains clear, and all members regulate each other for accountability.
  • Lead by example and consistently uphold the norms themselves; there is nothing worse than putting all the work in with the team and then the leader undermines it by doing something different.  This leads to unwanted behaviours where all too often respect is lost and the group spirals into fractious individuals, losing all sense of unity.
  • Provide constructive feedback when norms are not followed and address any conflicts that arise promptly; letting things build up over time can become overly dramatic and place undue importance on things that could have been a quick fix earlier on. 
  • Regularly review and update norms to ensure their relevance and alignment with organizational goals; as the context, times, and people change within the group, so do the norms.  These shouldn’t be considered a fixed set of rules, but rather flexible guidelines that evolve as the group does.

Roles:

Roles define the responsibilities, tasks, and functions of individual team members within the group. These are not always official job descriptions, though, as each team member has their own contributing dynamic that makes up the unique identity of the group. Knowing and acknowledging (as a group) the roles each team member plays with specific definitions ensures that everyone understands where they fit within the group and their value, leading to efficient workflow, enhanced productivity, and reduced ambiguity. Some roles can be assigned, whereas some roles are more a natural fit.  Either way, leaders should consider the strengths and skills of team members, aiming for a balanced distribution of workload.

Practical tips for effective role implementation:

  • Clearly define and communicate individual roles and responsibilities; these can group dynamic roles as well as task-based roles.  For example, ask yourself the question of who is the most appropriate Contractor, Creator, Contributor, Completer, Critic, Cooperator, Communicator, Calibrator, Consul, and Coordinator in the group.
  • Encourage open discussions to ensure everyone’s understanding of their roles; making sure everyone is on the same page is essential for team cohesion.
  • Foster a collaborative environment where team members can support each other in their respective roles; cross-role support always makes people feel they are not alone and gives them the confidence to perform better for the group.
  • Provide opportunities for skill development and training to enhance individual capabilities; promotes resilience by ensuring knowledge and skill sustainability when there are member changes within the group.
  • Periodically assess and adjust roles to adapt to changing circumstances or new projects; complacency leads to stagnation, which is the enemy of any high-performing team.

Conclusion:

If you are a leader that wants to create a high-performing team, it will require a thoughtful approach that incorporates socialization, norms, and roles. By prioritizing these founding elements, you can foster collaboration, boost productivity, and establish a positive work culture that exceeds expectations and generates excitement from all those around you. Effective team building and group development are essential for organizational success, and investing in leadership skills, management development, and soft skills is crucial for sustained growth.

To further enhance leadership skills and management development within your organization, consider enrolling your team members in Business Learning Solutions’ comprehensive course on Team building. This course covers essential topics such as effective communication, team dynamics and development, interactive design and more. Our experienced instructors provide practical insights and strategies that can be immediately applied to create high-performing groups and cultivate a positive work culture.

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