Can friction help cultivate high-performance teams?

Written by: Lynne Edwards

Can friction actually help cultivate a high-performance team? The answer is yes. 

We don’t just believe that a key part of a high-performance team is one that can disagree, we know it is, but why?

It’s natural to disagree

A common misunderstanding is that high-performing teams don’t encounter friction with one another.  Of course they do, the reality of teamwork is that friction is an everyday part of it. It’s an everyday part of life – people disagree. It’s what happens afterwards that’s the important part. The ability to disagree and move on in a productive and healthy way is a vital part of a high-performance team. 

High-performance teams

Firstly, let’s look at what we mean by a ‘high-performance team’?

There is no one definition for what a high-performance team looks like and the reality is that there are very few high-performance teams. Working as an effective, cohesive and high performing team can be difficult – but it doesn’t have to be. We believe the most successful teams are the ones that spend the time getting to know their team members. What are everyone’s strengths? What are their challenges? What are their talents? The key to developing your team is knowing your strengths and areas for improvement. Once you’ve taken the time to get to know your challenges, you can turn those into strengths. By taking the time to get to know each individual in the team and understand what makes them ‘tick’ provides the space to continually evolve and shift with changing dynamics, most importantly though, it helps teams start building trust. 

Understanding friction

Friction, conflict, disagreeing – whatever you want to call it. Is a normal part of everyday life And something we will all experience during our lives and careers.  How many times in work and life have you felt frustrated as something hasn’t gone right, the plans veered off course or someone hasn’t fulfilled their responsibilities? It’s easy to say nothing, perhaps even comment to someone else in the team that this has happened and potentially inflame the situation. Our own personal ability to acknowledge and embrace the friction from the situation is the key to using it to a competitive advantage, and this all comes down to effective communication. 

Embracing the friction

For friction to become a source of advantage, it has to be embraced. It can seem counterproductive to welcome friction as most friction in the workplace is born out of an issue arising, something going wrong or even something deemed as a failure. However there is power in failure, learning what went wrong will only help in the future and make the team stronger.  Team members that are therefore able to openly acknowledge friction and have the capacity to communicate with each other, are the ones that become stronger. By embracing friction, it can become healthy for teams, helping to develop some of the key pillars of a strong team – respect and trust. So, the next time there is friction in your workplace, we encourage you to embrace it – whether you’re a team member or leader. By embracing it you’ll build collective power to transform mindsets and in turn, the workplace.

The power of the whole team

One of the biggest misconceptions we see in team culture and success is that it is solely down to the leader.  There is no denying that a leader sets the tone and is responsible for how a team is run, but a team is by definition ‘a group of two or more people working together’. A team is a collective.  The saying ‘a team is only as strong as the weakest link’ is true. It is down to everyone individually and collectively to be the best they can be.  Whether you are a team leader or a team member, you have the responsibility to be open and honest with your colleagues, to be approachable and to have the space to hold courageous conversations.  The good news is that there are strategies that make these conversations easier and reduce the possibility of conflict and friction. The reality is it doesn’t happen overnight –  it takes consistency, dedication and honesty.

Taking the time 

At LH, ​we are passionate about developing high-performing teams. Our approach is designed to last. With our 360 approach, LH helps you and your team uncover your talents, unlock your true potential and keep progressing individually and together.  Our 360 approach focuses on three main areas to help individuals and teams achieve this: 

Insight – Where we focus on getting to know yourself and the people in your team.

Growth – Adding knowledge and development to all service-related departments.

Support – Maintaining the connection we make during the delivery. Building on the standards we created together with continued support for greater effectiveness.

Our specialist coaches and mentors work with and guide you, wherever you are in the world.

If you’re ready to invest in yours and your teams development, please contact us

1 October 2021 our blog , , , , , , , , , ,
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