A team is defined as a set of people who interact dynamically, adaptively, and interdependently towards a common goal. People on a given team should be distinguishable and, in order to be effective, they need to be able to successfully perform taskwork and teamwork.

Taskwork and teamwork

Taskwork includes specific tasks that members of the team need to complete in order to achieve the team’s goal. Teamwork, on the other hand, is more about shared attitudes (what team members believe), behaviors (what team members do), and cognitions (what team members know) that are needed for the team to finish the taskwork.

When it comes to a successful team performance, taskwork and teamwork are both critical. The effectiveness of one facilitates the other, which means a team is bound to fail if a team isn’t able to trust each other, share their knowledge, coordinate their behavior, or support one another.

Cooperation

There are many indicators of cooperation that can be seen at the team-level. Cooperation includes the attitudes, beliefs, and feelings that drive a team’s behavioral action. Some indicators of cooperation that are critical to the effectiveness of a team include:

  • Collective Efficacy: The collective sense of perceived empowerment or ability to control the team’s environment and function.
  • Trust: The shared belief that every member is going to fulfill their role and protect the team from failure.
  • Team Orientation: The general belief in the importance of being on the team and working together.
  • Psychological Safety: The shared feeling of safety that allows for interpersonal risk taking.
  • Team Learning Orientation: The shared belief about which team goals are geared towards learning, and to what degree.

Two key points from about that are worth highlighting include collective efficacy and trust. Let’s start by looking into the former.

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Collective Efficacy

Collective efficacy is the team’s collective sense of competence. This is a critical factor when it comes to making sure a team cooperates towards their shared goal. A team that is made up of members who collectively believe that they’re capable of achieving the goals set for them will usually: exert more effort, take strategic risks, perform better, and feel more satisfied overall.

If you want to develop collective efficacy in a team, you should cultivate it by promoting “early wins”. When a newly formed team, in particular, experiences high levels of initial success (or “early wins”), they will use these “wins” to help develop their collective sense of accomplishment. This will permeate through future performances.

A leader that can help a team facilitate these wins (which can start out very simple and progressively get harder as the team builds confidence) will see a higher level of collective efficacy within the team, helping to build up their cooperation at the same time.

This ties into gamification when you consider that collaborative gamification experiences can contribute towards a team’s collective sense of competency. A collaborative gamification experience will help provide a well-defined and clearly attainable “early win”, which will be signaled with badges and points.

When you increase a person’s motivation to take action through gamification, gamified applications can help support your company’s teams to meet the professional and/or business you have set for them while also increasing their learning and skill building. All of this leads to improved confidence and a higher sense of competency.

Trust

Trust is the other key element that needs to be cultivated within a team environment. Within a team, trust has been shown to influence the amount of team-wide monitoring and moderate the relationships between task and relationship conflict along with team training proficiency and performance.

Additionally, trust will lead to citizenship behaviors, higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, a positive attitude towards the organization, and a greater level of performance overall. Cooperation is positively and significantly correlated with trust towards others and beliefs about the fairness and helpfulness of others.

With this in mind, collaborative gaming and gamified systems help to develop trust within a team environment. When a team gets to go through a collaborative gaming experience together, they will be able to see first-hand what role they play in the team while also seeing the roles that other people play on the team.

As a whole, this experience will help build up their confidence that the team they are on is functional, that they have a role, that everyone else has a role, and that everyone is fulfilling their role as they should be. They will begin understanding that they are a gear within the team, and the part they play is important. They’ll begin seeing the value of being on the team and they’ll also begin feeling accountable towards the team’s common goals.

Improving Cooperation

When it comes to actually improving cooperation at your company, the most practical advice you can follow is simply getting your team members together to discuss with one another.

To develop trust, you should have your team members come together to discuss with other members about any prior experiences they have that are relevant to the tasks set to be tackled by their team.

By discussing their previous experiences, two important things are being accomplished. First, the members are able to ascertain each other’s abilities, giving them more confidence and providing a critical antecedent to being able to trust one another.

Secondly, this discussion will help them create a sense of similarity. This perceived similarity will allow members to see that they may have had similar experiences in the past, helping them to connect with one another. In turn, this further builds up the team’s trust.

If you allow these discussions to be conducted prior to a team performance, you can help the facilitation of trust while also increasing cooperative attitudes, which will have a very positive impact on the team’s overall performance and success.

This post was written based on the article Understanding and improving teamwork in organizations: A scientifically based practical guide.

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