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Team familiarity results in high performance

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How many teams have you worked on that you could describe as "high performing"? If you are like most people, you could probably count them on one hand.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article titled The Hidden Benefits of Keeping Teams Intact (December, 2013), Robert Huckman from the Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats from the University of North Carolina described the advantages of working with the same people every day.

Huckman and Staats’ research shows definite advantages of developing and maintaining teams. At one organization, they demonstrated that a 50% increase in team familiarity was followed by a 19% decrease in defects and a 30% decrease in deviations from budget. Other studies showed a 10% improvement in performance from teams with greater degrees of familiarity.. Team familiarity is defined as “ the amount of experience individuals have working with one another”

The authors suggest the following activities to improve team familiarity:
1. Coordinating activities: focus on team communication and active sharing of information
2. Learning where the knowledge lies: the more familiar team members are with each other, the more they will know who possesses what type of expertise.
3. Responding to change: more familiar teams are more flexible teams. When change is required they respond more positively, and more efficiently.
4. Integrating knowledge in order to innovate: with more efficient communication and knowledge of each other’s areas of expertise, familiar teams are better able to think creatively and innovate when needed.
5. Capturing value: competitors cannot replicate a well integrated and high performing team. This is an inherent advantage that cannot be replicated.

Anyone who follows team sports knows this well. Teams practice together to develop this familiarity which is proven to increase performance.

What are you doing to keep your team intact?

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