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38. Teams Aren't What You Think They Are

When we picture a team, we typically think of a handful of people working together on a project or our entire department.

Conceptually speaking, yes, these are our teams. But when it comes to improving our team processes this conceptualization is unhelpful.

How many times does your entire team actually sit down together to work on something? Smaller teams might do weekly check-ins, but most departments rarely meet more than monthly or quarterly. These one-hour team sessions don’t define the quality of the team interaction.

Although we typically visualize our team as a large group sitting at a massive conference table (or on a zoom call), this isn’t how work gets done.

Teams are a collection of smaller, dyadic interactions that take place from moment-to-moment. The vast majority of our emails, slack messages, phone calls, and meetings involve two people. It is in these moments were high-quality teams are created.

So if you’re interested in team building, don’t start at the team-level, that’s too abstract. Instead, focus on helping each team member engage in better dyadic interactions.


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