Mark Miller

Mark Miller | VP of Marketing, Emergenetics International

Finding the right ingredients for a high performing team isn’t always about getting the smartest people together, because if a team can’t work together and be collaborative, all that intelligence and skill could be squandered.

In this article from HR Zone, Brian Bacon of the Oxford Leadership Academy states, “How a team talks together will determine how well it works…and if there is no respect there will be no collaboration.” Collaboration is the cog in the engine of team performance. Ultimately, the way the team fulfills its duties is a direct result of how well they’re able to communicate, interact and initiate actions to accomplish goals. It’s all about behavior and ensuring you’ve got clarity within the team that perspectives are valued, communication is of paramount importance, and the impact is measurable.

So this kind of work is difficult. Teams everywhere can fall into similar patterns that devolve the team’s effectiveness. Even high-performing teams can sink into the “Storming” phase from Tuckman’s famous model, where there is dissonance and “storms” to go through.

One clear way to help keep teams high-performing? Creating more ways for the team to be collaborative. Here are 5 things to think about as a team leader.

  1. Open Communication Lines: Collaboration depends on communication, and it isn’t the kind of communication that is just top-down or occurs in a weekly meeting format. If you want stoke team collaboration, you need to open up the ways and methods that teams can communicate within. Every member should be able to communicate with equality and authority—it promotes openness and ownership.
  2. Dive into Individual Perspectives: Make it known that your team is filled with diverse perspectives. Unique ways of thinking. A full spectrum of behavioral preferences. That’s a lot to manage, but it’s a good thing. Make everyone on the team clear that individual perspectives are unique and VALUED. Using a tool like Emergenetics or other assessments can create even greater clarity around what these perspectives are and how to manage them.
  3. Expect Accountability: A team without accountability measures will be collaborative in a way that isn’t as helpful to team performance as it could be. Ensure that the goals are set, that team roles are defined…and THEN encourage the team to collaborate.
  4. Make Collaboration a Part of Your Team Dynamic: Meetings don’t cut it anymore. The world is too fast, the speed of business is too great and the demands of your workforce are too high to simply think that collaboration happens just in face-to-face meetings. Use your resources…like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Lync, Yammer, iChat and others to put the idea of collaboration into the moment. Your team will develop a greater sense of cohesion and will actively go to others.
  5. Define Consensus and Collaboration: This is a huge differentiator and what can take a team from being polite, communicative and ultimately ineffective to being active, challenging and truly collaborative. Getting input from people doesn’t mean coming to consensus—that isn’t team collaboration. Team collaboration is about pursuing new ways of working, new ideas, and different perspectives to reach clear goals and gain better solutions.

If you put these five things into action, you’ll see team collaboration evolve into a different kind of work style. Try it and let us know your results.