Managing team dynamics

Leadership and people-management specialist, Karen Gately explains what every manager needs to know about building a successful team

Managing team dynamics
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 relationships across your team 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 your team offer because people are able to collaborate?

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 each needs to.  

The ways in which people interact unquestionably has a profound influence on the ability of any team to thrive. Among the most important steps a manager can take to manage team dynamics and ensure people are able to succeed together are these.

1.    Build a healthy workplace culture. Create an environment in which people want to work and are able to thrive. Nurture a team culture in which people typically behave in ways that have a positive impact on the wellbeing and success of themselves and one another. Value a culture in which 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 are able to build strong relationships and deal with conflicts that arise. 

4.    Hire well. Choose carefully the people you invite to join your team. Place priority on ensuring their values are aligned to those of your organisation.  Assess how they are likely to behave as part of the group, not only when things are going well but especially when challenged or under pressure. Only ever promote to leadership roles those people who 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.  Ensure appropriate focus is placed on behaviours that enable the success of your team as a whole.  While individual objectives are important, ensuring people are committed to the team is essential to your organisations 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 or strong a relationship, at times things can go wrong.  Even the best of friends can at times 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.  

Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. 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 or contact [email protected]