The value of having jelled teams in the company or working in one is pretty obvious. Such teams are more productive and work more efficiently since they feel comfortable with each other. Can we use some magic trick to create a good team? Not really. For managers it’s usually easier to point out team killing factors rather than give a recipe for a healthy team.
Can you recognize a healthy team?
Jelled teams are more committed to accomplishing the common goal and feel responsible for each other. Effective teams communicate better, listen actively and take the initiative to help make things happen. Real team players volunteer for tasks, without sitting on the sidelines. They’re willing to share knowledge and experience. They take the initiative to keep other team members up to date with relevant information. They ask themselves what they can actually contribute in order to achieve success ?
Is your team jelled?
Can you actually tell that your team jells? I think yes. This is when you start feeling the team does everything right. It may sound idealistic, but it involves solving problems before they even are visible, finishing iterations early, delivering high quality software and having a lot of fun at the same time. That feeling is very uncommon so if you happen to be working in such a team you’re really lucky.
You cannot make every team jell
There is no universal recipe for efficient teams. You can only provide some basic ingredients and hope for the magic to do its trick. Anyhow, jelled teams have usually certain things in common:
- a specific goal shared by all members
- high sense of responsibility and commitment.
- feeling they are accomplishing something valuable
- being interested in each others work
- enjoying spending time together while moving the project forward
Once you notice the team enters the jelled state you should step to the sidelines and let the miracle team spirit do the work.
Can we stimulate jelling?
You can’t do much to keep them jelled, you can only try not to kill the team and focus on protecting them from the external influence that may break them up.
We need to bear in mind that the accomplishment and the sense of achieving something valuable is what really keeps them jelled. No company party or team building exercise would ever be capable of jelling them. I think these activities can only reinforce what already exists within the company.
Bottom line is, we can’t grow or artificially breed the team. As employers we can only create the conditions in which the team can thrive and naturally jell. In my next post I will present these conditions by showing the example of a legendary team that rocked one of the companies from the computing world.