Our Thinking, Team Environment

The Narrative of Your Team and Why it Matters for Performance


“Our team doesn’t work well with that team”, “January is always a quiet month for us”, “We’re better on the operational tasks than creative ones”.

We all have stories, beliefs, language and narratives which we tell and hold about ourselves and that shape our behaviour and how we approach situations. Being aware of what these are and replacing any narratives that are holding you back can be transformational for your performance.

But what about extending this to entire teams or organisations?

Often when we start working with new teams within businesses, we ask them to describe their team traits, identity and how they work together. It’s extremely common that team members share a similar rhetoric and narrative about the team and this impacts on the team behaviour. For example, “we’re not good at Zoom” or “we’re too busy to take on new challenges”.

These team narratives are extremely powerful because they tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, limiting the team and preventing people from thinking differently or innovating.

The stories that you and your colleagues tell about yourselves can become part of the team identity. This can either be negative and limiting or a driver for positive behavioural change and action.

What are the narratives that you currently have within your team?
How does this impact the way that you work and what you can achieve?
What could you replace that narrative with to inspire positive change?

Some of the best leaders are those that take control of the narrative and design the stories that they want people to talk about.

Imagine replacing “We don’t see eye to eye with the finance department” with “We’re brilliant and collaborating with other departments”. Or “We’re not great at x” with “We’re amazing at y”.

Leaders hold the key to effectively change narratives and unlock the potential of teams and solicit high performance.

3 steps to start authoring stories that support development:

  1. The best place to start is to consider (and collectively agree upon) what behaviours and attitudes you’d like to see more of in your team or would be necessary to reach your goals.
  2. Define and develop how this narrative can positively impact your team (be specific) then proactively seek out opportunities to practise demonstrating examples of when the new narrative has contributed to success. Celebrate these successes, reframe challenges, tasks and initiatives using your new lens.
  3. Embed new behaviours – regularly review the way that you and your team is behaving, agree to hold each other accountable, check-in on whether you are embodying the desired narratives, values and culture that you’re trying to develop.

See how we can improve your team’s performance.

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