People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 62

In First Person: Suzanne Bell
People + Strategy guest editor Dave Winsborough spoke with Suzanne
Bell, a tenured professor at DePaul University, NASA-funded researcher,
and independent consultant. She is particularly noted for her awardwinning research and cutting-edge practice related to maximizing team
effectiveness.

Predicting Team Success in Outer Space
P+S: Many organizations seem "unconsciously incompetent" when it comes to
teams-that is, they encompass many
forms of coordinated group activity
(virtual teams, project teams, management teams, and so on) but rarely
provide support or training to help teams
perform at their best. What lessons could
be drawn from the greater rigor applied
to space missions (or any other area you
know well)?
Suzanne: I think a common mistake
is to organize work around teams but
to keep HR practices such as selection,
training, and compensation focused on
individuals. For example, when staffing
and managing teams there is usually a
focus on individual characteristics and
skills; compatibility is often overlooked.
In our research for NASA, we specifically focus on the compatibility of team
members and the healthy patterns of
team dynamics that help a team succeed
in the long run. Even highly competent
people who are good "team players" can
get into patterns of jockeying for leadership and fall into classic team traps like
not sharing important information with
the team or the right team members.
The value of a certain characteristic
often depends on the characteristics
of other team members. For example,
empathy may increase in importance
when one or more team members are
less emotionally stable.
Knowing how a team's composition
is likely to shape teamwork can be used
62

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

to staff teams; however, it's not always
possible to create "dream teams" and
a manager has to work with what he
or she is given. In these cases, team
composition can also be thought of as
the team's DNA and informs how to
best structure, lead, reward, and train
the team. For example, I worked with
teams deployed to Afghanistan that
had an ambiguous leadership structure.
Team members were competent and
well trained, but could not resolve who
should take the lead in a particular
circumstance. Members in two different
"leadership" positions were constantly
jockeying for power. The organization
tended to attract leaders that were highly assertive and who were used to "telling it like it was" (e.g., low self-monitoring). With the ambiguous leadership
structure, teams with this composition
could not get into a workable pattern
of teamwork. Information sharing
decreased between team members,
and several of the teams were unable
to meet their objectives. In this case,
the positions were so highly specialized
it was difficult for the organization to
recruit a broader type of applicant.
Changes such as the retitling of positions and role clarification were used
to reduce the ambiguity in leadership
structure that was interacting negatively
with the team's DNA.
Few teams, if any, perfectly coordinate all the time, but the teams that
are "mission focused" are able to keep
smaller disagreements and hiccups

in team interaction from derailing
their team. A "mission focus" is understanding what it means for the team to
succeed and a willingness to do whatever positive behaviors are needed (e.g.,
putting egos aside, backing each other
up as needed) to help the team meet its
objectives. It also requires an understanding of how the team's success
contributes to the bigger picture; for
example, the organization's mission or
competitive advantage. This mission
focus can help team members bridge
small differences and leverage these
differences for the team's and organization's success. Hybrid rewards that integrate both individual and team-based
rewards are one means of keeping team
members accountable while encouraging a mission focus.
P+S: Many leaders know instinctively
what the right mix of people is when
composing teams, but they mostly think
in terms of hard skills. What have we
learned about the mix of other attributes
people possess and their effect on team
cohesion and performance?
Suzanne: We know a lot about how
team composition affects teamwork and
performance. Here are some basics.
First, in most team situations, deep-level
(i.e., underlying) characteristics such as
personality, work style, values, and intelligence have a stronger influence on
teamwork and performance than more
readily detectible characteristics like age



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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