Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ingredients of a great team

When looking for a well performing team, we often consider benefits of diversity, typically consisting of gender, experience, nationality, culture and creativity. Instead, or in addition, should we be looking for a mix of behaviours, such as skills in social interaction, empathy and influencing? What are the ingredients that provide best outcome for a given purpose?

Researcher Katri Saarikivi at Tubecon industry day in Helsinki discussed elements of creating great online experience. She emphasized importance of empathy and interaction. A “human centered design” was featured as a key element in planning online experiences.
How do we do that? Demonstrating emphathy and interaction towards our customers? Saarikivi stated that (customer´s) problem solving is a combination of 3 factors: technology, cognition and sociability. In addition to technical knowledge, competitive advantage is built on better human understanding and better human contact. The key drivers to this, in supporting employees, are according to Saarikivi ability to provide psychological safety and trust, clarity of structures, meaningfulness and impact. In Saarikivi presentation the core is everybody´s voice to be heard. Thus, understanding, experience and actions together, generated by a well functioning team, drive good customer service. More on Saarikivi viewpoints in recent interview by Kauppalehti Optio.
The New York Time Magazine wrote about a quest to find the perfect team. The challenge was to find out how to turn employees into faster, better and more productive versions of themselves, also referred to as “personal productivity”. Some studies show findings that out of our daily work, more and more time is spent on collaborative work. This should enable better innovation and problem solving. Thus, focusing on team effort and its impact is a big deal.  
Successful outcome does not mean gathering the best people to do the work, but rather forming a team that has best ingredients contributing to success. New York Time Magazine case on Google proved that mix of personality types or skills or backgrounds did not make the difference. The “who” part didn’t matter. The norms and collective IQ that is distinctive, than that of any single member, makes the difference. The right norms could raise the group´s collective intelligence, good performance leading to another. Some norms were identified; group members talked the same amount of time ie everybody is listened to. Second, group members have social sensitivity, demonstrating interpersonal trust and mutual respect.
Behind great customer experience is therefore a great team that feels their work is meaningful, supported by open dialogue and sharing, and understanding their mission. Team members, in ideal situation, have various behavioural patterns. Those complement each other and each others´ experience, driving common, shared norms and raising the collective performance.
Aiming to develop our own competences and performance, and living in a world that is never ready, our marketing team established an own quest. Mission is to learn from digital marketing and online customer behavior. One of the learning experiences was to choose a platform where to benchmark our own work. As a result, we are now shortlisted at European Communications Awards as Team of the year. Final results will be announced after a pitch end of September. Feeling extremely proud of the team, I think we have some great ingredients. Work and development continues.