This case study shows how Team Sociomapping can be leveraged to improve communication within a team that has been merged together from two different departments or teams.
Quite often, different teams are merged together with the goal of improving overall performance or saving resources. However, it is essential these teams merge correctly in order to help them overcome the initial problems of distrust and unfamiliarity of new colleagues. After this, the team will be able to work and cooperate effectively under the direction of a new team leader. It is important to set rules of communication within the team effectively in order to avoid problems from unclear responsibilities and tasks for individual team members.
Half a year before the Sociomapping analysis, two teams were merged: the legal department with the compliance department. The head of the legal department has become the head of the new team, and the head of the compliance department has simultaneously become the new head’s subordinate.
Main issues and approach
The new team was facing two main problems: 1) team mergence and establishing effective communication; and 2) the position of the head of the new department. Therefore, the team has repeatedly used Team Sociomapping in regards to two primary areas of focus: 1) frequency of communication, actual as well as optimal; and 2) effectiveness of communication, which is measured as quality of communication weighted by its importance. Another necessary part of the Team Sociomapping analysis has been a development workshop, where results were presented to the team and action plans for solving and improving the situation were adopted.
Analysis of the frequency of communication pinpointed the fact that half a year after its mergence, the team formed two separate groups distant in their level of mutual communication, as shown in the sociomap below. Outstanding is also the marginal position of head of the team, Fred.
The sociomap of optimal frequency of communication shows that the groups formed from members of their original teams and are still distant in the optimal frequency of communication. However, there are mutual demands for an increased frequency of communication between individual members of both groups (black arrows).
Sociomapping analysis of the importance and effectiveness of communication showed two important facts: Fred´s quality of communication did not respond to its importance at all and thus Fred stands in the worst position on the sociomap for effectiveness of communication.
Team Sociomapping analysis of communication showed that the lately formed team had problems with frequency and effectiveness of communication, especially between the original teams that were merged. Problematic was also the position of Fred, who was criticized for ineffective communication (especially from the former compliance department), inaccessibility in crucial situations, bad time management, ineffective leadership in meetings, and low interest in team events.
Sociomapping analysis helped the team understand the problem in a more specific and concrete way and also to adopt processes necessary for its elimination, by remitting and naming the above mentioned problems. A unique feature of Team Sociomapping is the ability to display the results in a clear and understandable visual form, which helps individual team members personally identify with the results.