What Makes for Extraordinary Work Groups?

Whether it’s a cross-functional team, a work group, or a committee, working with people with different personalities, expectations, styles, and perspectives can be incredibly challenging. Yet within that challenge lies an opportunity for extraordinary outcomes. So, what are the signs of an extraordinary work group?

 
Shared Purpose: Highly productive groups have a clear and compelling sense of their purpose and use that purpose to drive decision making. They keep their purpose alive by making it visible, raising it in discussions, and using it to inform future actions.
 
Mutual Accountability: Rather than abdicating responsibility to a leader, extraordinary groups share both contribution and responsibility. It is expected that each member of the team will step up with ideas, questions, and concerns, and fully engage in their responsibilities toward reaching the group’s outcomes. They give each other feedback and hold each other accountable for reaching their goals.
 
Capitalizing on Differences: High-functioning groups acknowledge differing perspectives and practices with curiosity and openness and intentionally tease out contrasting viewpoints. They recognize that diversity within the team enhances creativity and innovation and minimizes group think.
 
Learning Environment: A sense of safety exists in extraordinary groups from which members are willing to take risks and experiment. They use both setbacks and successes as a platform from which to study what they could have done differently and what they will replicate going forward.
 
Trust: One of the most critical factors extraordinary groups embody is trust in one another and in the collective. They are vulnerable with one another and are willing to admit mistakes, give and receive feedback, and work through conflict openly and functionally.
 
Committing to enhancing both task and process issues related to groups yields deep personal satisfaction and exceptional team productivity. As a result, extraordinary groups experience shared excitement, deep individual and team learning, shared commitment, and remarkable performance.