When building an effective team, there are some often over-looked "secrets" to keep in mind. One rule of thumb is not to look for just smarts when selecting team members, but to also look for social skills. Groups tend to perform better on tasks if the members have strong social skills. Second, the most creative teams tend to feature a mix of old comrades and relative strangers. The article's author uses Broadway as an example. The best productions tend to be those with a mix of relationships behind the scenes. "This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently, they had a familiar structure to fall back on, but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas. They were comfortable with each other, but they weren't too comfortable." Third, effective team performance requires clear goals.
A recent survey of more than 500 professionals and managers in 30 companies determined that unclear objectives represented the biggest barrier to effective team performance. A fourth secret is "After goals, define roles." Identifying distinct roles (i.e., clarifying who is going to do what) is one of the most proven ways to increase the quality of teamwork. Finally, a team really is only as strong as its weakest link. Findings from two studies demonstrate that perceptions of team trust are lower than the average ratings of individual trust and are statistically equivalent to the least trusted member. In addition, the article's author concludes, "compared with average individual trust levels, perceptions of collective team trust were found to be more predictive of (a) impasse rates in distributive negotiations and (b) the level of joint gain in integrative negotiations."
The Week (11/11/2013) Barker, Eric