Team efficacy is the member’s individual assessment of how the team as a whole is successful in task performance. Efficacy is important because it enables alignment between individual and team goals.
As a key element of successful high-performing teams, team efficacy is a work-related subset of collective efficacy, which defines the level of trust, solidarity, and close relationships in a community.
Think about it: if you feel aligned with your teammates and trust them that they will do a good job, you will be more motivated to do a good job yourself and enjoy greater job satisfaction. If someone slacks and doesn’t pull their weight, it erodes team trust and team morale.
The higher the sense of team efficacy, the better the team’s performance.
How easy is it to create efficacy in virtual teams? To get the answer to that question, we need to get a bit deeper into what is efficacy and give practical examples.
Team Efficacy vs. Team Effectiveness vs. Team Efficiency
Team efficacy is often confused with team effectiveness and team efficiency. Although related and interdependent, they do not have the same meaning.
- Team effectiveness refers to the quality of the tasks a team executes.
- Team efficiency refers to the success of processes a team uses to perform tasks.
Team members need to be both efficient (use correctly work processes and resources) and effective (produce high-quality results).
Team efficacy is closely related to psychological safety at work. Psychological safety is the ability to show oneself at work for who they are, ask questions, challenge decisions, and assess overall team performance.
For leaders, it is essential to nurture psychological safety at work. Psychological safety helps the team use the means as they should – show efficiency, and produce the desired results – show effectiveness.
Watch Episode #40 from the AsktheCEO Series to learn more:
What is Team Efficacy? (+Examples)
If we want to express the meaning behind team efficacy, the best sentence is:
“I have a belief in my team.” or “I trust my team will do great work consistently.”
Here are several team efficacy examples:
- Scrum Master of an agile software development team who trusts that his team will reach sprint targets consistently.
- Leader who creates efficient task workflows and delegates effectively will improve efficacy.
- Team member who sticks to a schedule and believes his team members will do too under pressure will most likely score his team high on efficacy.
- Project Manager who is resourceful and adaptive when things get tough is an example of efficacy. If things are not stellar at the moment, they believe the team will meet targets and reach goals down the line.
It doesn’t take long to understand that enhancing effectiveness and efficiency will lead to increased team efficacy.
Team Efficacy Model for Virtual Teams
One can assume that a team must share an office to create trust, commitment, effort, and motivation. However, that is a wrong assumption. Virtual teams are equally as efficacious, if not more. When managed properly, any digital space created for team sharing, collaboration, and communication removes distractions, confusion, and misunderstandings.
Here is what you can do as a leader to improve the efficacy of your virtual team:
1. Work on verbal guidance skills.
Verbal guidance skills (VGS) are important both as self-guidance and as leadership interventions. VGS involve clear instructions about what is required in a task. Verbal guidance can also be supportive advice and cheering for team members.
Verbal guidance skills work best when matched with the right action. Setting a good example of efficacy as a leader demonstrates behavior that you trust your team and expect to develop a culture of trust, transparency, and commitment.
2. Create opportunities for independent meaningful work.
Every employee has once in their career heard an interview question about working independently on a team. Since the right mix of independence and interdependency contributes to high team performance, ensure that you:
- Promote role clarity
- Hire people that know their responsibilities and limitations
- Speak clearly and listen attentively
- Offer and ask for help when needed
Note: Meaningful work provides a sense of purpose and well-being that spills to other work areas.
Listen to the Virtual Frontier Podcast to learn more:
3. Give team members a chance to voice their opinion about others.
Building a transparent team evaluation system and using it regularly enables expressing feedback across the team.
4. Foster team behavior.
Your task as a leader is to work on:
- Team collaboration skills. Open-mindedness, adaptability, self-organization, debate, and long-term thinking are a few examples of skills that support team collaboration.
- Healthy conflict resolution. Successful conflict resolution lies in preserving the relationship, not in winning an argument. Establishing boundaries is key for conflict resolution, so make sure to encourage clear communication and assertiveness on your team.
- Goal-setting. Team efficacy is impossible without effectiveness. Your team needs individual and team goals to be effective and efficacious. Write them down and agree to them to strengthen team commitment.
- Performance management. To manage performance, you need indicators. Match goals with KPIs to explain what success and high performance mean on your team, individually and collectively.
- Resources. Team resources are vital for team efficiency. Without good resource management, your team will either achieve excellent results at a cost you are not prepared to bear or fail to achieve due to a lack of resources.
5. Practice transformational leadership style
Transformational leaders empower teams and create change in the team environment by inspiring employees to take the lead. Four crucial elements of transformational leadership are important for team efficacy:
- Idealized influence. Model the behavior you want to see on your team.
- Inspirational motivation. Act with integrity, and focus on yourself, the other person, and the task at hand.
- Intellectual stimulation. Encourage innovation, critical thinking, and creativity.
- Individual consideration. Be as much a coach and a mentor as you are a leader and a manager.
Employes on teams with high team efficacy are committed, persistent, and put more effort into work.
- Optimizing Team Effectiveness: Key Takeaways From the Science With a Focus on the Virtual Context – Rebecca Grossman, Jack P. Miller, 2021
- Sampson, Robert J., Collective Efficacy Theory
- Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams: A Reflection – Steve WJ Kozlowski, 2018
- The Effects of Group Efficacy Over Time on Group Performance and Development
- Employee–Organization Relationships and Team Performance: Role of Team Collective Efficacy – PMC
- Inspirational Leadership Matters: The Four I’s of Leadership