How to Reward Dynamic Teams

In this article, we’re going to talk about the unique aspects of dynamic teams and how organizations should approach rewarding and recognizing their members. If your organization relies on dynamic teams, this post is for you.

January 3, 2023 By Ivo Jurcic Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

Workspaces are evolving. With the arrival of new trends, technologies, and industry developments, work is becoming more dynamic. 

For organizations, this means making a gradual shift from robust job-based operations to skills-based operations models. As more companies mobilize dynamic teams to complete tasks, the question of recognizing and rewarding dynamic teams becomes a key HR concern. 

Let’s first provide a brief description of dynamic teams and list their main benefits.

What are Dynamic Teams 

Dynamic teams are an organizational model of work that relies on grouping skilled individuals from different departments to complete specific projects. They are comprised of highly skilled and flexible individuals who are able to solve complex problems through collaboration.

According to SAP’s research, the average lifespan of a dynamic team is commonly between 4-6 months.

After a project is completed, a dynamic team disbands and employees are reassigned to their departments or to new dynamic teams. 

There are several culture-centric aspects at play that are critical for the success of dynamic teams:

First, dynamic teams are defined by the collaborative approach; employees continuously learn from each other and improve. They rely on their collective ability to share knowledge, information, and resources, and their openness to try new ideas.

These characteristics make dynamic teams the beacons of innovation. 

Second, dynamic teams may operate without a formally assigned leader, i.e. they are self-managing. 

Veterans and interns alike understand the importance of line managers. They inspire, motivate and organize team members and are critical for sustaining productivity. 

But without managers, dynamic teams have to be carried by an outstanding and healthy team culture.  

For example, when team members debate how to approach a problem, even if they disagree, they do so in a respectful and productive manner. After meetings, employees feel energized and have a clear vision of their tasks, instead of feeling exhausted and frustrated. 

While this operating model is in stark contrast to a traditional team-department structure, it has strong benefits, both for employees and the organization. 

Employees who participate in dynamic teams enjoy an engagement boost due to a change in their work environment. Their collaboration skills also improve, and they become quicker to respond to changes in their environment and adapt their work processes accordingly. 

The influx of new knowledge helps cultivate problem-solving skills that employees can pass on to their original department/team once they return.

Imagine the impact six months spent in dynamic teams can have on individual employees’ development. 

Similarly, the organization benefits by having a more resilient workforce that can quickly respond to changes in its environment and maintain productivity despite disruptions.

Dynamic teams excel in rapidly changing workflows, meaning they’re actually able to introduce new practices on the go. 

This is a game-changer during times of crisis. 

Why are Recognition and Reward Practices Crucial for Dynamic Teams?

One of the biggest challenges regarding dynamic teams is the lack of visibility for HR and senior leaders. 

Since dynamic teams often function without formally assigned leaders and without predictable workflows, it can be difficult to monitor the performance of individual team members. 

The overwhelming majority of enterprises have their HCM infrastructures tailored around traditional job-based operations, meaning HR lacks the tools for collecting feedback and deeper insights into team dynamics and productivity. 

Because of it, it’s hard to determine individuals’ share in the success of the project. As a result, an employee’s efforts in completing a part of the project can go completely unnoticed and unrewarded.

When that happens, employee motivation sinks like a rock. 

Since dynamic teams are highly culture-centric, HR has to be able to make cultural initiatives to create the best possible culture in which dynamic teams can thrive, regardless of the project duration. 

There have been many studies to validate the idea that culture plays a crucial role in performance and satisfaction.

For example, one study published in the Career Development International journal suggests that organizational culture is a predictor of job satisfaction. Certain cultural traits, such as fairness, enthusiasm for the job, and good reputation, act as job satisfaction amplifiers. 

Being able to recognize positive cultural traits is crucial for culture-centered units, such as dynamic teams. 

In other words, HR has to include dynamic teams in the organization’s recognition and reward practices to solve these setbacks. Internal team recognition helps outside spectators, namely HR and leadership, determine the personal contributions of every team member, and increases visibility. Employees can be properly rewarded when leadership notices their ground-level contributions that would’ve previously gone unnoticed.

With this in mind, let’s talk about the best R&R practices for dynamic teams. 

Recognize the Right Team Behaviours

Dynamic teams are built on collaboration. 

Rewarding the right behaviors and attitudes that are aligned with the team’s mission encourages employees to embody these values in their everyday work.  

For instance, when a team member demonstrates their willingness to go above and beyond to help their co-worker and the entire team commends them for it, they feel inclined to do so again. 

Cultural conditioning has a huge impact on the work environment. Cultural conditioning is the process of absorbing, interpreting, and adopting various influences, norms, and attitudes from the working environment and translating them into behavior. When employees are surrounded by positive influences and values, their behavior reflects them back. 

Since dynamic teams are culture-centric and depend on healthy relationships, HR has to reinforce positive values early on. 

Here is one example of rewarding the right team behaviors:

In the company’s R&R solution JobPts, team members can recognize each other’s behaviors that are aligned with the company’s mission and values. 

In this particular example, employees who are bold enough to try new ideas and explore a different approach are recognized.

By doing so, every team member is encouraged to experiment. 

Our prominent values are:

  • Excellence; dedication to delivering your best work
  • Selflessness; tendency to get out of your own way to help team members
  • Commitment; accountability for your performance and work
  • Passion; taking the initiative and an active role when performing everyday duties 
  • Agility; the ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment 
  • Curiosity; the willingness to try new ideas and innovate 

Bear in mind, dynamic teams are, by definition, made of employees hailing from different departments and backgrounds. They have to base their cooperation on values that act as a rallying flag.

To recognize the right behaviors, HR has to have a clear understanding of which values contribute to the success of their dynamic teams. 

Values are core fundamental beliefs that show how to engage with your colleagues or what attitude you should bring to work with you. When a member of a dynamic team personifies the true values of the organization, you want to have the tools to recognize them. Better yet, you want HR to have the tools to define the most important values and see which ones are trending and being recognized within every dynamic team. Ivana Boshkovska, Product Owner at Semos Cloud 

Introduce Virtual Peer-to-Peer Recognition to Build Relationships

Even though dynamic teams are bound to disband, their members need peer-to-peer recognition to sustain the culture from day one. 

SAP’s report on dynamic teams revealed that dynamic teams typically consist of 5 to 7 people, with 8 being recommended as the ideal team size. 

Since dynamic teams are small in size, team members will work closely and naturally get to know each other during the project. This creates an outstanding opportunity to develop a fantastic working relationship that wouldn’t have been possible in a larger department with dozens of co-workers. Small gestures go a long way. 

According to Gallup, recognition correlates with a team’s sense of meaning and purpose. 74% of surveyed U.S. employees say when they receive praise, they feel like the work they do is valuable and useful. 

In the same survey, 66% of members of adequately praised teams strongly agree that they trust the colleagues with whom they work on a regular basis. 

Trust and meaning are instrumental in sustaining motivation and morale until the project is complete. 

Dynamic teams thrive on them. 

Informal, in-person recognition happens often in most teams and workspaces, but dynamic teams still need virtual peer-to-peer to take up an active role in culture shaping. 

Another thing to consider is that dynamic teams have a shorter lifespan, which means team members don’t have the time they need to develop stronger interpersonal relationships with colleagues outside of their team. For one, they spend most of their time interacting with team members, but standard departments still make up the majority of the workforce. 

The rift between dynamic and standard teams may cause the former to be excluded from annual workforce rewards and voting peer-to-peer recognition programs. 

This cultural barrier is removed by introducing more peer-to-peer recognition, both inside and outside of the dynamic team. 

Peer-to-peer recognition programs give outside viewers full transparency and visibility into what’s happening in the dynamic team. HRs can collect recognition data and check up on the dynamic team to see if team members are cooperating frequently. 

This approach removes any guesswork and gives HR hard data on which to base their decisions. 

For example, culture analytics reveal employees’ cultural engagement within a team, the number of recognitions sent, and their personal contributions to the team or company culture. 

Now that you understand how values and recognitions shape the culture of a dynamic team, we can talk about rewarding members adequately. 

Identify KPIs to Focus your Rewards

Dynamic teams have KPIs that reflect on the team’s ability to respond to change and produce deliverables that will ultimately lead to the project’s completion. 

Since dynamic teams work in unpredictable, rapidly changing workflows, the visibility of the team’s performance is limited. Individual team members can put in huge amounts of effort to complete an action or a task, but unfortunately, their contributions can go unnoticed. 

As mentioned, this can often be the case with senior leaders and managers who are not used to this model of organization. 

When unrecognized moments start to stack, employees’ motivation starts to lapse. 

This situation can be averted by defining a dynamic team’s KPIs, connecting them with performance, and adequately rewarding team members. 

By doing so, the hard work of team members does not go unnoticed, leadership has more transparency in the team’s performance and, most importantly, the dynamic team is included in the R&R ecosystem of the organization.

It’s a triple win. 

So what are the KPIs for dynamic teams?

KPIs for dynamic teams are quantifiable measures of performance achieved over time, best understood as targets for the team to lock down. 

Every project can be different, so there are no KPI is etched in stone. 

Since dynamic teams form for various projects, applying the same set of KPIs as benchmarks for productivity for every single dynamic team makes no sense. 

Some KPIs are dynamic, meaning they change over time based on the stage of the project, and others are static, which means they have fixed targets. 

However, when thinking about dynamic team KPIs, it’s helpful to observe these categories:

  1. The amount of work (or tasks) the team completed per unit of time. 
  2. The number of errors or defects in deliverables that indicate the quality of work.
  3. Collaboration; the number of defined actions that contribute to the collaboration culture of a dynamic team. For instance, these can be; the number of meetings, the number of completed joined tasks, the number of times team members provided help to one another, etc. 
  4. Innovation; the number of new ideas or approaches developed within the team since its formation
  5. Team member satisfaction; is the measurement of how satisfied employees were with their dynamic team experience. HR can measure this KPI with feedback forms or quick employee surveys.

By defining KPIs for your dynamic team, employees and outside stakeholders have the benchmarks they need. 

Then, employee rewards can finally start. 

Reward Team Members with Monetary Rewards 

A complete R&R experience is made of monetary and non-monetary rewards. 

Let’s talk about the former. 

A monetary reward is a powerful form of compensation that can have a strong impact on employee motivation and performance. 

Being rewarded for your hard work is a fundamental human need. 

Getting a monetary reward after completing an impactful project or a task serves as an outstanding incentive for members of the dynamic team to deliver their best work. 

A study published in the Journal of Economic Psychology titled The Effects of Monetary Incentives on Performance: A Meta-Analysis found that monetary incentives can significantly increase the performance of employees on tasks that require cognitive effort and skill, especially when the incentives are tied to specific goals or targets. 

The study also noted that the effectiveness of monetary incentives may drop over time. 

This is interesting because dynamic teams typically have a lifespan of 4 to 6 months, which makes them ideal for short-term monetary reward strategies. 

For instance, an organization with a flexible R&R platform can reward dynamic teams for their efforts several times over to increase the team’s performance, but without excessive spending or worrying about the effectiveness of monetary rewards will plummet. 

Employees have different preferences for monetary rewards. 

Incentive Concepts released a survey to discover which monetary reward employees prefer:

  1. Food/beverage items
  2. Apparel/clothing items
  3. Watches/clocks
  4. Small electronic items
  5. Other 

As you’ve noticed, these range from expensive to affordable items. 

Any of these items can serve as an adequate reward during the project, as long as they match the team member’s reward preferences. 

By doing so, HR can access natural performance boosters without busting the bank.

Give Emblematic and Non-monetary Rewards after Disbanding the Team

Organizations should reward their dynamic teams after they have completed a project and the team is no more. Besides monetary rewards, emblematic and non-monetary rewards are vital for a complete reward experience. 

There are two main reasons behind this practice:

First, emblematic and non-monetary rewards are outstanding for showing appreciation to employees after a job well done but provide value that is not monetary. They provide a unique opportunity to add a personal flair to the reward experience and project a sentimental  feeling. 

Staple examples of emblematic rewards are usually items like employee trophies, certificates, and plaques. 

Emblematic rewards have a celebratory appeal, enabling organizations to celebrate the success of a dynamic team. 

On the other hand, non-monetary rewards, such as extra time off or experiential rewards can do more for employees in terms of appreciation, than a mere monetary bonus. By doing so, the organization effectively displays appreciation and attention to the recognition needs of team members. 

The second important reason is to give a positive note to the overall experience of being a part of a dynamic team. 

As reported by SAP, dynamic teams can have great outcomes for employees. 

66% of employees reported a positive impact of the experience on their careers. 20% of employees rated the experience as highly satisfying

Additionally, 23% of employees claim they feel very motivated to join another dynamic team. 

Giving team members sentimental, non-monetary awards will make the experience positive, so more employees will be motivated to partake in their next dynamic team experience. 

For example, the R&R solution our team uses enables HR to send printable memory books in PDF to celebrate Moments that Matter. 

When a person leaves a team, they get a downloadable book with the most important moments to remind themselves of their collective and personal achievements. This is just one of many examples of how organizations can get creative with rewarding employees after a dynamic team has been disbanded. 

As work evolves from a job-based organization of labor to a skills-based one, there will be more dynamic teams. 

Forward-thinking HR has to stay ahead of the curve by accustoming employees to this novel approach to organizing work. 

Once organizations have developed and tested strategies to incentivize employees and improve their experiences, their dynamic teams will be more effective. 

R&R Platforms Make a Difference for Dynamic Teams 

R&R platforms are instrumental in integrating dynamic teams into the organization’s recognition and reward practices. 

As we said, most HCM systems are tuned to traditional workforces and agile teams, but for dynamic teams. Because of it, dynamic teams have limited recognition and reward functionalities, which can cause a lack of recognition. 

This is a loss because the employee experience of dynamic teams should matter too. 

If the HCM platform is not flexible, the dynamic team might be set up too late when then the team is already deep into the project. Remember, dynamic teams are not long-term and don’t have the luxury of waiting weeks before they are registered as a team on their organization’s R&R platform. 

By the same token, dynamic teams need more attention from HR on cultural maintenance than regular teams do. If there is a lack of functionality in terms of culture analytics or culture-building features, dynamic teams will suffer.

However, there is a remedy. 

Flexible R&R solutions, such as JobPts, enable HR to form dynamic teams quickly and include them in the recognition process. JobPts is built as an extension to existing HCM platforms, such as SuccessFactors or Oracle, instead of being a separate solution used exclusively for dynamic teams. 

This way, HR can easily set up recognition and reward functionalities and disband the team once the project is completed. 

Over the last couple of years, work has become cross-functional. Employees from different departments are grouped together to collaborate on a task for months. With or without a solution, they’re going to exchange feedback, give kudos, or get rewarded. Instead of having all that interaction happen offline, they should be able to do it on a fine-tuned recognition platform. HR can include them in the company’s cultural ecosystem and effectively master the art of dynamic teams. Ana Binovska, Professional Services Team Lead at Semos Cloud

The R&R practices of dynamic teams, agile teams, and traditional workforce departments become consolidated, and can all participate in employee recognition and redeem rewards from extensive gift catalogs. 

If you’re curious about the impact of JobPts, read about how our solution helped an enterprise:

  • cut $76 000 on employee rewards
  • increase employee engagement by a whopping 175%
  • improve its Glassdoor rating from 2.9 to 4.3

Read the full report here

Conclusion 

Many HR thought leaders agree that the future of work is changing and dynamic teams are smack in the middle of it. 

In this blog post, we’ve discussed what are dynamic teams, why they rely on an excellent working culture, and what is the role of recognition and rewards in keeping their culture healthy. 

Finally, the article explained how to approach rewarding dynamic teams from the moment they’re formed to the moment they disband. 

As work becomes more cross-functional and employees from different departments get banded together, enterprises will pay more attention to the cultural needs of dynamic teams. When that happens, R&R solutions will become central tools for keeping the dynamic teams engaged, productive, and satisfied.