Have you ever had to manage a team of people with very different personalities? It can be a challenge. While Tempo's Jira resource management software does many things, from centralizing the management of teams to providing an overview of all employees' tasks, it doesn’t address the changing dynamics that crop up in different groups of people.
Some teams are very effective. Members may finish each other’s sentences, contribute valuable and unexpected ideas and divide the speaking time equally. Other teams are less effective. A single member may unfairly dominate the conversation, and there may be an atmosphere of distrust or uncertainty. Unfortunately, Jira resource management software from Tempo doesn’t resolve issues with team dynamics. As a leader, you have to work on building the right atmosphere to make sure every member contributes as fully as possible.
So how can you get the most out of your team? Surprisingly, it’s not a matter of choosing the most talented people as the members. According to a growing body of research, the key to creating a truly effective team is to foster psychological safety. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmonson, who coined the term, defines psychological safety as a "shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking”. It is characterized by a ‘‘sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.’’ A very well-studied aspect of team learning, psychological safety means being able to be one's self without fear of negative consequences.
Some elements of psychological safety look counter-intuitive at first glance. In her research, Edmonson noticed that better performing teams appear to make more errors than those that perform less well. Over time it became apparent that what distinguishes the best performing teams is not the amount of mistakes they make, but the amount of psychological safety they have, which allows members to be transparent about their errors. In a negative team environment, employees may worry that their colleagues will reject their contributions and avoid speaking for fear of being judged. By fostering psychological safety, all team members feel safe and appreciated.
The cost of having a team with poor psychological safety is high: ”Every time we withhold, we rob ourselves and our colleagues of small moments of learning. And we don't innovate. We don't come up with new ideas,” Edmonson explains in a 2014 TEDx talk. So how can you build psychological safety at work? It takes more than Jira resource management software from Tempo to effectively manage your team. Here are a few steps you can take, inspired by Edmonson’s research, to build a better team dynamic.
1) Start small
Model positive behaviour by productively challenging team members and contributing new ideas. Invite members to offer their expertise. Acknowledge when team members take risks - whether they ask questions or contribute new ideas - and vocalize your appreciation for their effort, especially when they make a mistake. Being supportive in this way will inspire other team members to take similar risks.
2) Frame the work as a learning problem
"Make explicit that there is enormous uncertainty ahead and enormous interdependence," Edmondson explains. ”We've never been here before; we can't know what will happen; we've got to have everybody's brains and voices in the game." In other words, make it clear that the future is unknown, the group is learning, and every team member's input matters.
3) Acknowledge your own fallibility
As a team leader, it’s important to be aware of your limitations. Occasionally make statements that acknowledge your imperfections and follow up by encouraging others to contribute their thoughts. For instance, you may say something like “It’s possible I could miss something — it’s important that I hear from you."
4) Be curious and ask a lot of questions
When you ask a lot of questions, your team members will be encouraged to generate meaningful answers and contribute their own questions. Model curiosity that gets people talking and stimulates productive discussion. If a team member’s performance is faltering, use genuine curiosity to open a dialogue that will inspire change.
Jira resource management software from Tempo, also known as Tempo Planner, can help you plan complex projects for big teams, whatever the group dynamics. Learn more about how Jira resource management software from Tempo works. For more on how to cultivate psychological safety in your team, click here.