A recent Gallup study discovered something odd: Teams with fewer than 10 members have the highest and the lowest levels of engagement in Gallup’s database. Our scientists say this illustrates how easily smallish teams can be swayed in one direction or the other.
Of course, all teams can be influenced — but the fewer the direct reports, the greater the manager’s impact for good or ill.
Most teams are far larger than that, and though managers can’t always dictate team size, they still affect 70% of the variance in their team’s engagement regardless of size.
Managers are as accountable for the performance of two people as they are for 200.
To extend their influence over a large group and ensure workers are engaged, developing, and using their strengths every day, managers might find that the “5 Cs” — common purpose, connection, communication, collaboration, and celebration — provide a handy blueprint.
1. Common purpose: Managers have more influence over team culture when all members share the same mission and purpose. To gauge how well that purpose is understood and integrated, managers should ask themselves and employees:
- What positive feedback does the team receive most often? How have the team’s collective strengths contributed to that success?
- What negative feedback does the team receive most often? What potential talent gaps may contribute to that? How might you use your team members’ talents to help you resolve these issues? What talents can you leverage?
- What are the team’s performance goals? How does the team identify its goals and objectives?
2. Connection: Teams that relate to one another via their innate talents create productive, engaging cultures on their own. This is true even when some members work remotely, which 43% of workers do at least some of the time, so ask:
- What specific actions does this team take to stay connected to one another?
- When everyone connects, what do they think they’ve accomplished? How much is work related, and how much is social?
- Who are your team’s cheerleaders? Who can rally everyone together?
3. Communication: Great managers individualize, so they must be able to convey expectations geared to each member and model effective communication in the workplace. But team members need to be able to communicate well without the manager’s input. To that end, consider:
- How effectively do your team members communicate with each other?
- Who on your team can ensure that the right information gets to the right people?
- Where does your team excel in communication? When and where does it stall, and how can you improve it?
4. Collaboration: 84% of U.S. employees say they are “matrixed” to some extent, which increases pressure on them to cooperate effectively and encourage collaboration in the workplace. Managers need to know:
- How does your team build and nurture relationships?
- Does everyone on the team know and appreciate each other’s talents and strengths?
- What specific actions can you take to create a team culture where everyone recognizes and appreciates each person’s talents and strengths?
5. Celebration: Recognition of an individual’s accomplishments is vital to that employee’s engagement. But teams need to be acknowledged, too — it promotes cohesion and sets a good example for others. So, managers should recall:
- What are your team’s recent successes?
- How did you celebrate these successes?
- How do you publicize and celebrate your team’s talents and strengths?
The 5 Cs help managers and team leaders think more deeply about team culture and approach managing it more effectively. Even — or especially — when the team is huge.
The more people, the less influence, but managers are as accountable for the performance of two people as they are for 200. No matter the team’s size, when those workers are engaged, developing, and using their strengths every day, their performance is easier to manage — and keeping the 5 Cs in mind can help.