Dr. Eduardo Salas has been investigating team effectiveness and how organizations can create more effective teams. Based on his twenty plus years of research on teams, he has concluded that effective teams need to have seven C’s, and they need to avoid one C. The greater the extent to which each of these C’s are present, the more effective the team. The last C is a team-killer.
The Eight C’s
- Conditions: Practices – including policies and incentives – need to support teams. Teams must have the resources that they need to be successful, leaders must show that teamwork matters, and good team performance must be recognized and reinforced. You can have the best team in the world but if the conditions are not optimal for teamwork, organizations won’t get the behavior, cognition, or attitudes needed.
- Cooperation: Team members must like being on their team. This means that members need to trust each other and each member needs to contribute to the team’s work. When members fail to contribute (the “social loafing” syndrome), teams may experience greater conflict and reduced satisfaction and performance.
- Coordination: Effective teams foster mutual support, adaptability, and flexibility. Effective teams coordinate their processes to match the requirements of their tasks. For example, teams dealing with emergencies should increase their communication by verbalizing their plans and sharing their information.
- Communication: Communication occurs in a precise, timely and clear manner. Effective teams have protocols in place for exchanging information, their members communicate face-to-face as often as possible, their members contribute equally, and contributions are succinct and to-the-point.
- Cognition: Team cognition is unique from individual cognition and involves a shared understanding of tasks and member roles. Effective teams have a shared understanding of their tasks, member roles and capabilities, and their equipment.
- Coaching: Leaders promote teamwork and care about team members. Effective team leaders facilitate their teams by building trust, establishing norms, engaging in teambuilding, and focusing on the conditions that promote success.
- Conflict: Effective teams provide a climate where it is safe to deal with conflict. This climate is called psychological safety, and is promoted by active listening, looking for common ground, and expressing concern for the relationships between members by focusing on problems not people.
- Lack of Clarity: And the biggest team killer is another C, lack of Clarity. This is defined as the lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities – who does what, when, why and with whom. Team members must know their precise roles and responsibilities.
How does your team perform on the eight C’s?
Rate your team on the following eight items by answering the following question – “To what extent does each of the following statements accurately describe your current team in general?”
Note – It is important to protect confidentiality by ensuring anonymity when completed by all members of a team.
1 = Very Inaccurate
2 = Inaccurate
3 = Somewhat Accurate
4 = Strongly Accurate
|Conditions: Practices – including policies and incentives – support team performance (e.g., adequate resources, recognize and reward performance, leadership champions teamwork)|
|Cooperation: Team members must like being on their team (e.g., strong trust, equal contribution, high member satisfaction)|
|Coordination: Effective teams foster mutual support, adaptability, and flexibility (e.g., processes match the requirements of the task)|
|Communication: Communication occurs in a precise, timely and clear manner (e.g., existing protocols, lots of face-to-face communication, communication is succinct and to-the-point)|
|Cognition: Team members have a shared understanding of their work (e.g., tasks, member roles, member capabilities, equipment)|
|Coaching: Leaders promote teamwork and care about team members (e.g., leader facilitates team, engages in teambuilding, establishes norms)|
|Conflict: Effective teams provide a climate where it is safe to deal with conflict (e.g., listening, looking for common ground, focusing on problems not people, showing concern for the relationship)|
|Clarity: Team members have a precise and clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities (e.g., who does what, when, why and with whom)|
Share results with your team and discuss the following:
- Which “C” is our strongest?
- Which “C” varied the most? (i.e., received inconsistent ratings across members)
- Which “C” needs the most improvement?
- What is one thing we can start doing right now to improve our lowest-rated “C”?