Team identification is defined by academics as the degree to which team members define themselves as being a part of the team, attaching a value to this membership, and investing emotionally in their belongingness to the team.
According to a 2018 study done by Daniela Pinheiro dos Reis and Katia Puente-Pallacios, team identity reinforcement is necessary for the effectiveness of a team.
Teams can be very diverse, and their members may have different personalities and cognitive abilities, and come from various backgrounds and cultures. This is most likely in distributed teams, where each team member could be living in a vastly different geographical location. Many studies, including research by McKinsey (2020), have shown that diverse teams outperform those that are not.
However, in order for diversity to be leveraged, there should be a mutual understanding of one another between team members. A study from 2008 done by Sinan Aral, Erik Brynjolfsson, and Marshall Van Alstyne concluded that a significant amount of mutual knowledge between team members is associated with higher performance (but extremes of too little or too much mutual mutual knowledge can negatively affect performance).
There are significantly less cues in virtual environments than in offices that can help team members develop this mutual knowledge. Dr. Agustin Chevez, Architect & Academic, explains in one of the Future of Teams Conference sessions that explicit knowledge is easily transferable, through documentation for example, but tacit knowledge is much more difficult to transmit, and even more so in virtual spaces.
Working in distributed virtual teams, where members are likely to have diverse identities and backgrounds, with no physical workspace cues involved, can be a barrier towards team cohesion, and alignment to the team identity.
We’ve designed the team identity virtual workshop, by getting inspired from Patrick Cownden Beyond’s Resonance workshops, and we based it on a series of simple questions, to help you navigate this aspect of daily team life.
This workshop allows team members to:
Explore their sense of self
Explore what aspects of their identity connect the most with the team and organization’s culture
Become aware of how they communicate their identity to others.
Develop safe spaces where they can be in the present moment together.
The Team Identity workshop is a very simple workshop which gives its participants a much needed space to be mindful of who they are, who their fellow team members are, and how they connect to their team identity.
Click here to download The Team Identity Worksheet, and let us know how your experience went. We look forward to hearing your stories.
If you’re curious about other tools that can help you improve your team’s cohesion, AION is an application for virtual teams that enhances collective emotional intelligence, and reduces implicit barriers that are caused by geographical and cultural diversity. You can also check out our other worksheets.