Relationships are complex, because people are complex.  And when you put lots of complex things together, it gets really complex.  It’s complex because there are a lots of different aspects to relationships. Here, we are talking about values, motivations, aspirations, experiences, personal filters, strengths, personality and fears.  All of these and more impact how we communicate, work together and what we find important.  When a team is not healthy, you might notice symptoms such as cliques, moaning, blaming each other, people working on their own and more obvious things like open conflict in the team that doesn’t get resolved.

When a team is healthy, there is a noticeable absence of all of those toxic things and a certain something that is hard to put a finger on – something a bit like flow.

The strength of relationships needed to be high performing will vary according to what type of team you have.  If you just have a group of independent specialists who all happen to report to you, the relationships don’t need to be deep – just enough trust to get along and enjoy each other’s company.  This is because their most important relationship is with you as the manager.

However, if you have a team which is interdependent, where they rely on each other to achieve collective goals, relationships need to be much better, much deeper, much more trusting. So, it’s important to be able to diagnose two things.  First of all, how important different aspects of relationships are to your team and secondly, how skilled the team is at those aspects.

We’ve identified 14 things we think are worth considering in team relationships:

  1. Managing conflict well
  2. Understanding their own personality and their preferences and that of others
  3. Understanding and working well with cultural differences
  4. Being inclusive and valuing difference
  5. Putting personal agendas aside in service of team needs
  6. Knowing their own strengths and development areas and those of their team members
  7. Having high levels of trust with their fellow team members
  8. Having a high level of accountability in the team for getting things done without being told what to do
  9. Being able to work effectively across multiple locations in a remote team
  10. Being able to make decisions effectively as a team
  11. Being able to work well regardless of hierarchy and status in the team
  12. Knowing how to navigate the politics of the organisation
  13. Being transparent and open with each other
  14. Holding each other in mutual regard

Of course some of these will be more or less important to a team depending on the way the team is set up.  A team who all sit together in one location will not consider “Being able to work effectively across multiple locations in a remote team” is important at all, so they don’t have a need to get good at that.  But to another team who is dispersed over multiple locations and maybe time zones, this would be extremely important.

To identify the key aspects that affect your team relationships and to help you to prioritise which areas to focus on first, we have created the team relationships diagnostic tool.

Want to learn more about it and our team development solutions? Get in touch by emailing us at or telephone +44 (0)333 987 5072