Teams of Teams

February 23, 2023
More and more, companies will are built around networks of teams that may be formed and disbanded quickly as projects are established and prioritised.

Helping teams work together

When I stop and think about the type of work we do with clients, a pattern I see repeating is that our sessions often focus on the interactions of more than one team. Often, the goal is how these teams can better work together.

With job titles being more fluid, and the constantly changing business landscape requiring people to adapt and take on new responsibilities, it’s far more likely that employees now sit in more than one team, either at different points in the week or on different projects.

These networks of teams may often be formed and disbanded quickly as projects are established and prioritised.

Add into this the fact that companies may merge, and it’s obvious that the success of teams going forward will have a lot to do with the extent to which they ‘buy into’ the views of the new group that they will be part of, some of the time.

This means it’s even more important that people understand the context in which they are being asked to work.

Reasons for disruption

It might surprise you to learn, however, that for all of the suspicions that newly combined teams have conscious objectors, and have those that deliberately want to disrupt and destabilise, I generally find this isn’t the case.

Most of the time, people don’t actually want to rock the boat. They don’t want to wreck things, or create unnecessary angst.

Where leaders might think they see this is in people’s nervousness about being part of a new group of people, or where it comes to light that some people don’t understand the priorities of others, or experience group dynamics which might cause them to feel withdrawn or anxious.

What newly-combined teams really need to do is find a new framework in which they can work. They may also need to find solutions to the different levels of motivation or psychological safety that might be brought to the table.

Members will need to help each other out; to enable them to realise what each other’s new roles and responsibilities are. They might need to work out how to re-distribute the load.

In essence, they need to do stuff that’s hard! They’ve got to talk, and spend time doing it, to reach a new consensus.

Yes, it’s difficult because some people may be at a different starting point in their journey, meaning there’s more common ground that needs to be found.

But it is possible to do? Of course it is.

Seeking alignment

My message here is that ultimately the best teams can, and will arrive at a win-win for both. But only if they are conscious about their communication, and much more conscious of where they need to find alignment.

Few people like disruption, but when it happens, people typically need to feel positive about change. That’s how buy-in is created. At the end of the day, leaders need to gain people’s trust. They need to know that people trust their judgement. It’s about management through influence, and getting people on their side.

The best teams are deliberate about everything. They focus on momentum that’s created, and how it can be continued. They communicate progress and share success. Ultimately, they make people feel positive again.

That’s surely a lesson we can all take note of.

If any of this has resonated with you, take a look at our Team Brand Upgrade workshop.


Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

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