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The Skill Successful Workplace Teams Need

The Skill Successful Workplace Teams Need
Credit: Hera/Shutterstock

Successful teams don't just include employees with varied skill sets. The most effective workplace teams consist of skilled communicators, new research finds.

In order for teams to reach their full potential, their members must be adept at "information elaboration" discussions, according to a study recently published in the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes journal.

Information elaboration involves team members openly exchanging relevant information and ideas, seeking clarification on perspectives offered by others, and discussing and integrating this information and feedback. Researchers say only when this skill is mastered, will cross-functional teams be able to capitalize on their wide-ranging knowledge to achieve success.

Researchers said when team members are able to quickly get on the same page, they are better able to determine what information is relevant and have discussions in a thoughtful and detailed manner.

These communication skills are especially important for teams working on more-troublesome challenges. The researchers discovered that the more "turbulent" or unpredictable the working environment is, the more important information-elaboration discussions are to a team's success.

However, the opposite holds true for teams working on more-routine problems, as detailed communication was found to be of minimal value and sometimes even a drain on resources.[CEO Communication Gap: More Info, Less Criticism, Please ]

Christian Resick, the study's lead author and an associate professor of management at Drexel University, said specialized cross-functional teams working in dynamic, fast-paced environments perform better when their members not only have the right technical skillsets, but also have the ability and motivation to exchange information in a rich and detailed manner.

"In less disruptive environments, teams should focus more on the formation of routines and the adoption of accepted practices to gain decision-making efficiencies," Resick said in a statement.

The study also revealed another critical element when assembling successful teams: including members who are motivated to share in the leadership of the team, willing to collaborate when making decisions and capable of trusting those they work with.

Resick said employees who have a high level of independence tend to mistrust others, which can derail the team.

The study was co-authored by Toshio Murase and Leslie DeChurch of the Georgia Institute of Technology and by Kenneth Randall of Banner Health, a health care nonprofit.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.