Reinforcing a Group’s Collective Confidence to Increase Innovation and Performance

In order to demonstrate the importance of a team’s collective confidence and the effect it can have on every member’s attitude, here are two fictional teams with characteristics based on my observations of various organizations.

 

There is team 1 which is experiencing a steady growth. Despite this, there is a lack of team spirit and of confidence because of a change in the work conditions and because the situation is not as easy as it once was.

 

Then, there is team 2 which is experiencing constant difficulties and whose financial performance is continuously threatened by budget cuts and restrictions. Nonetheless, the entire team is determined and confident about its future. The members of the team can openly speak about constant challenges, they acknowledge their strengths and they discuss the possibilities for improvement. All members share the same goal bwhich is what motivates their efforts, leads their discussions and inspires their decisions and actions.

 

Being realistic in order to accomplish a common goal.

The first team’s moral is often low and the possibility for innovation is seen as a burden. The rare proposals of new or unusual perspectives are quickly turned down and replaced by an overall feeling of hopelessness. The members of the team have the impression of being excluded from the rest of the organization, creating resentment towards it. These individuals do not directly confront the origins of their problems. Instead, they keep telling themselves that everybody is going through the same situation and that nothing can be done to fix it.

 

An opaque wall exists between the team and the outside world of clients and competitors. The time that could have been devoted to exchanging ideas and solving problems is used to make jokes, discuss about unrelated subjects and is followed by a quick return to the daily routine.

 

The second team is not afraid of bringing up and discussing conflicting ideas and perspectives because the achievement of the common objective is every team member’s priority. There is an open and direct communication of dissatisfactions and deceptions to find the appropriate solutions and to take action. The decisions and actions are calculated, yet taken quickly and efficiently and motivated by the considerations of projecting a professional image. Team 2 encourages respect and authenticity in dialogs and discussions.

 

A sustained collective confidence.

The second team manifests its confidence through every individual member’s professional abilities. The group’s confidence is sustained in two complementary ways:

 

  • By conducting formal meetings that encourage the constant improvement of methods and practices.
  • By informally sharing new and relevant ideas, observations, research findings and articles.

 

This team has the characteristics of a mobilized team.

 

The opposite is the case in the first team. That is:

  • Although every individual has confidence in their own abilities, it is not extended to the group’s collective ability to succeed.
  • This is due to what every member calls the “organization’s closure” to their propositions.
  • There is no confidence in the future.
  • Very few actions taken other than those of the daily routine.

 
 

Conclusion.

The same way as an individual develops their confidence, a group can become more confident in its abilities by: experiencing diverse situations and constantly developing the professional capacities of every member.

 

Furthermore, a constant effort should be made to learn from one another. The group should also be open to discuss different issues, look for different ideas and look at challenges and difficulties in a constructive manner.

 

Team leaders should be ready to guide their collaborators towards the desired course of action and immediately intervening when there are deviations. For members of the team to believe in their collective confidence, issues and problems should be approached interactively, with a focus on taking action and finding solutions rather than complaining and criticizing.

 

Edith Luc, Ph.D.

 

© 2011 Edith Luc. All Rights Reserved.


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