When teams struggle to communicate, it influences the quality of collaboration. It can create anxiety in the team, which becomes a barrier to connection and team learning, sapping the team’s energy and impacting performance. Thriving teams are fueled by human energy and learning, not performance. High performance is an outcome that results from solid team bonds, connections, and team learning.
A critical task in any organization is processing and sharing information to gain insights, learn, adapt, and innovate to create and maintain a competitive advantage in their respective field or industry. Everyone, not just the team leader, has a perspective to share, and when done in a team learning environment, those perspectives can lead to valuable insights and ideas.
When working with teams to improve dynamics, we use the Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI) to improve communication, collaboration, and connection, which influences a team’s ability to learn. The assessment and team activities we do in conjunction identify underlying causes creating the barriers the team is facing and surface the dysfunctional patterns that are holding the team back.
The NBI measures an individual team member’s unique thinking preferences or cognitive style. It influences how people lead, communicate, negotiate, innovate, and make individual, team, and organizational decisions.
You might be thinking, “Why do I need awareness of thinking and communication preferences?”
Collaboration fuels business growth. Teams generate ideas and solutions that are much better than a team member could develop as an individual. That requires communication, and as most people have experienced at some point in their professional lives, a lot can go wrong on the journey, from intaking information and making meaning of it to when communicating it verbally or through some digital means.
What is the cost of poor team dynamics and communication?
- Miscommunication can cost companies dearly. One study found that “a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.”
- Another report shows that 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective communication and collaboration as reasons for workplace failures.
- When teams are offered better communication skills and technology, it can increase productivity, sometimes as much as 30%.
When leaders and teams can gain awareness of how they and others process information and communicate, they start to become aware of the diversity of their teams at a much deeper cognitive level and on the path to learning that a team of brains attacking a problem is better than one.
Cognitive diversity refers to the differences in perceived thinking styles, knowledge, skills, values, and beliefs among the team and organizational members. How we think individually and as team members can be an advantage in today’s accelerated and complex global environments, whether a person is in corporate, healthcare, non-profit, etc. Cognitive diversity has implications for teams in how they connect and learn. For example, suppose we interact and engage with our fellow team members through the lens of cognitive diversity. In that case, collaborating becomes easier as we overcome our internal defensive behaviors, which make leaders and teams blind to perspective, block idea flow, and create barriers to individual and team learning.
How Do Teams Capitalize on Their New Insights?
Once teams have a new awareness of how they prefer to receive information and communicate, they have to do something with that awareness. In our experience, teams need help to immediately implement what they have learned in their regular work routines. We reinforce the learning with follow-on play-based team-building activities and coaching engagements. For example, we run virtual team building events in a fun, low-risk environment (as opposed to work which is a high-risk environment) to practice new communication, information sharing, and collaboration strategies.
Often in the scenarios we run with teams, a team member will say, “There has to be a better way!” which will be the catalyst for ideation and a new, improved solution for approaching the problem. New learning routines are developed that can be applied in the context of the team’s everyday work. It is in these types of low-risk but high-learning events that previously unknown strengths emerge that can be transitioned from the low-risk team-building event to the context of everyday work.
As team members get to know people much deeper and achieve greater relationships through their interactions through virtual team-building activities or other leadership and team development experiences, teamwork becomes more manageable. There is a positive impact on team psychological security and safety, which are critical foundations for team learning and thriving.
Want to learn more?
Please schedule a consultation with us today to find out how we can help you improve communication and tap into the diversity of your team.