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#LearnWithELMS : Factors Influencing Team Performance

What Can Support Teams in High-Performance Sport Learn from Other Industries? A Systematic Scoping Review



While high-performance teams in elite sport have benefited from considerable scientific advances in physical preparation, participation and recovery practices, elite sport in this instance has not benefited from the science of teamwork effectiveness


Individuals within elite sport support teams include team/athlete coaches and the sports medicine and science team members who are constantly looking for ways to improve the performance and health of the athletes with whom they work. Taken together, they may be referred to as the High Performance Team (HPT). Elite sport teams may need further inputs beyond traditional structures of coaching staff and limited number of medical personnel to influence health and athletic performance outcomesHigh performance teams (HPT).


The authors’ scoping research findings identified 4 key variables that were associated with team function and performance across a variety of industries. These variables are:(i) leadership styles, (ii) supportive team behaviour, (iii) communication, and (iv) performance feedback. Team function and performance in the context of support teams in high-performance sport may be better enhanced if we first work towards understanding the behaviour of those four key variables relative to each other in the broader sports team


The key themes of teamwork that emerged from the literature on team effectiveness models:


  1. Team leadership roles and styles

  2. Performance goals and feedback

  3. Team orientation and adaptability

  4. Supportive team behaviour


  1. Team Leadership Roles and Styles


In sport, leadership behaviour is not just important for individual players; it is important for the team as a whole. Highly cohesive teams worked together more efficiently and, consequently, performed better than less cohesive teams.


Positive Effect on Team Performance:


  • Leaders act as influential role models, wherein their self-regulatory behaviours directly shape task-related team processes, which was shown to positively influence team performance.

  • Leaders who displayed higher cognitive ability, conscientiousness and charisma were better able to mediate their teams to enhance team performance outcomes

  • Teams will perform better when team leaders are highly involved in the team’s communication and workflow networks


Negative Effect on Team Performance:


  • Leaders within a centralised structure where the decision-making authority is concentrated at the top, and all other lower levels follow the directions coming from the top of the organisation structure, have negative effects on conflict and performance


Performance Goals and Feedback


Learning through performance feedback provides team members with the opportunity to learn how to work collaboratively, having the potential to (1) shape team culture or attitudes, (2) establish common team goals, and (3) improved understanding of performance standards.


In the sporting context, without effective communication and feedback, it is difficult to modify individual training plans (e.g. training load and other environment considerations like training surface) according to athlete age, position and medical history.


Positive Effect on Team Performance:


  • Open communication and feedback about both strengths and weaknesses were identified as a characteristic of well-performing teams.


Negative Effect on Team Performance:


  • Poor communication was a marker of dysfunctional relationships.

  • The effectiveness of performance feedback can be blocked by a poor understanding of how to use that feedback, and how the feedback was perceived.


  1. Supportive Team Behaviour


Several of the studies explored how the relationship between supportive team behaviour, the ability to anticipate other team members’ needs through accurate knowledge about their roles and responsibilities, and team performance, complement each other


Positive Effect on Team Performance:


  • Members within teams that engage in more cooperative behaviours become more efficient, effective, and viable


  • Teams with strong group identity, communication and structural cohesion mitigated the adverse consequences of team conflict and collective team failure.


Negative Effect on Team Performance:


  • Relationship conflict within teams has negative consequences on task performance.


Team orientation and adaptability


Team orientation describes how members in teams learn, store, use, and coordinate their knowledge to accomplish team and organizational goals.


Positive Effect on Team Performance


  • Intrapersonal functional diversity—where each member’s experience is distributed over many functional domains (operations, logistics, leadership), rather than focused on one specific functional area—was positively associated with information sharing and collective group performance.


Negative Effect on Team Performance:


  • Age, job tenure and performance dissimilarity are also associated with lower team performance

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