Many of us have had moments where we see someone do or say something and think to ourselves, “I wonder if they know how their actions are affecting the people around them.” It’s easy to observe a group of people and recognize how the actions and words of individuals affect the rest of the group. Often, we can tell that someone is an engaging speaker by noticing how the audience gets caught up in the way they tell a story. Or we might catch an awkward moment in the making, as someone says something they shouldn’t have, and a ripple of tension runs through the group.
Although it can seem so easy to observe from a distance, the same isn’t always true when it comes to our own words and actions. Ever had a casual conversation with your significant other and then realize, all of a sudden, that it’s turned into more of an argument – and you have no idea where the turning point was?
The same principle can be applied to teams in the workplace. With so many people working with different communication styles, it can be easy to miss cues that indicate when a discussion is about to go south – especially when it comes to your own contributions to the conversation. But one of the most effective strategies to improve team dynamics is developing an acute sense of self-awareness that can be applied when communicating with the team. So what’s the key to gaining more insight into how the things you say and do affect the people around you? Finding – and remembering – the answers to these three questions:
What do you bring to the table? Knowing what kinds of tasks you’re best suited for will allow you to optimize your strengths. Over time, it’ll also help the team coordinate roles more effectively. Are you amazing with numbers? Awesome – find answers to complex problems using your numbers skills and you’ll improve team dynamics by establishing a strong, trusting relationship with your teammates.
Pro Tip: check out this article from the Telegraph: Why self-aware leaders are more productive and effective
What are you missing? Understanding what you’re not amazing at will help determine when you should call a lifeline. Is someone else better at breaking down complex information into understandable terms? Terrific – even if you’re the manager, consider asking someone else to run the next end-of-project debrief for the team. You might find that this decision can improve team dynamics: your employees may leave the meeting more confident and less frustrated if someone else can get the take-aways across more effectively.
What might be better left at home? Recognizing certain behaviours that may not come across so well to others will help you put your best self forward for the good of the team. If you’re typically the life of the party but your team prefers to keep their heads down, a daily chat might actually harm relationships instead of building them. Learning that strength is weakness can be a blow to the ego sometimes – but it’s important to remember that we each have preferences in our communication styles. Respecting the team’s communication preferences can have a surprising impact on relationships, team performance, and improving team dynamics.
As a manager, it’s key to support and empower your team, and sometimes that involves taking a step back to figure out how your own words and actions can affect the group. Effective team managers don’t always have to be in the forefront – there’s power in letting other team members excel in what they’re good at, especially when it covers something that you might not be the best in. By answering these three questions, you’ll gain deeper insight into how the things you say and do affect the rest of the team – and that’s a strong step forward in creating a more effective, productive unit.
Now imagine if everyone on your team had this keen sense of self-awareness!