Managing team dynamics: what every manager needs to know about building a successful team

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 13:55

How well do the people on your team get along? Do they trust each other? Do they respect and value one another? Now reflect on the impact the quality of your team relationships has on the performance of your business.  How well are you able to leverage the full potential of your people because they work with a spirit of cooperation? To what extent are you tapping into the diverse perspectives, skills and experience of your team because people collaborate well?

When people collaborate they work together to understand what needs to be done and how best to go about it.  They make decisions together and listen to each other’s concerns and preferences.  They offer their ideas and opinions while remaining open minded to one another’s point of view.  Even when one is in a position of authority, people who collaborate work with mutual trust and respect to achieve what needs to be achieved.  

Without a doubt, the ways in which people interact has a profound influence on the ability of any team to thrive. Here are 7 of the most important steps a leader can take to manage team dynamics and ensure successful collaboration.

1. Build a healthy workplace culture

Create an environment in which people want to work and can thrive. Nurture a team culture where people typically behave in ways that have a positive impact on the wellbeing and success of themselves and one another. Value a culture where people feel free to share their ideas, challenge one another and contribute to the organisations thinking.  

2. Value diversity

Understand and educate other members of your team about the power of diversity.  Help people to understand that having and leveraging a diverse team will better allow the organisation to achieve its ambitious objectives. Expect people to appreciate that when they work collaboratively with their colleagues, particularly those who bring different insights and perspectives, better outcomes are enabled.  

3. Value relationships

Great teams are built on the foundations of trust, respect and camaraderie.  When people enjoy working with one another, they are more likely to fully engage and share their talents.  When they trust the other people on the team they are entirely more likely to openly share their views and contribute. Lead by example by placing importance on quality relationships. Take steps to ensure your team build strong relationships and deal with conflicts that arise. 

4. Hire well

When hiring it’s important to choose your staff carefully. Place priority on ensuring their values are aligned to those of your organisation. Assess how they are likely to behave as part of the team, not only when things are going well but especially when challenged or under pressure. Only ever promote people to leadership roles when they consistently demonstrate the values and behaviours you want to encourage.  

5. Set clear behavioural expectations

Clearly articulate your core values and the behaviours you expect from everyone in your team.  Ensure appropriate focus is placed on behaviours that enable the success the success of your team overall.  While individual objectives are important, ensuring people are committed to the team is essential to your organisation’s ability to thrive.  

6. Hold people accountable

There is little point setting expectations if you don’t follow through and hold people accountable to them. All too often I observe leaders espouse corporate values and yet fail to act decisively to address misalignment.  Accountability begins with you.  Lead by example and showcase what you expect.  Take steps necessary to ensure behaviour matters as much as outcomes.  

7. Resolve conflicts

Irrespective of how healthy a culture is or strong a relationship can be, at times things can go wrong.  Even the best of friends can find themselves engaged in conflicts they find difficult to navigate through. Recognise when members of your team are struggling to relate to one another or move past disagreements.  Encourage open, honest, respectful discussion about conflicts.  Expect all parties concerned remained focused on reaching a resolution that allows for effective working relationships to be re-established.  

About the Author: Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gatel.  She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people (Wiley) and The Corporate Dojo: Driving extraordinary results through spirited people. For more information visit