“Stop, Collaborate and listen”
Teams are becoming increasingly more diverse, cross-functional, they can be dispersed across locations and are more technologically reliant, all of whom can be reporting to the same leader and working towards the same goals and deadlines. However, despite the team dynamic shift, whether they be large or small, the genesis of team collaboration requires design.The design of three underpinning pillars – team direction, team structure, and support mechanisms.
A clear direction for the team provides purpose and alignment. This provides everyone within the team with an understanding of what the team’s purpose and goals are, and importantly, how each individual within the team contributes to it.
A well-structured team allows team members to know their contribution, opportunities for interdependency and expected behaviours. There is great value in difference – autonomous thinking by team members will be more creative and arrive at more sustainable decisions through diversity of thought.
Team Structure can be enhanced through:
- Establishing a Team Charter that is particular to the team and aligned to organisational values;
- Defining team ground rules and acceptable conduct expected of each other. These rules don’t have to be complex and could be as simple as arriving to team meetings on time and not interrupting when someone is speaking;
- Reviewing the team structure and its members – is there the right number and mix of team members to achieve its objectives?
- Assessing the office setting, is it open or does it allow space for teams to break out and collaborate?
Team members need the empowerment, encouragement, support and space to challenge, coupled with the resources and training required to effectively perform. Challenge is essential in supporting team growth and sits on a precipice that can tip to unhealthy conflict. The likelihood of unhealthy conflict within teams is increased as the size of the team increases.
Effective Support Mechanisms to enhance team performance include:
- Shared knowledge and information - whether it be via regular round table discussions or team information forums (virtual or face to face);
- Conducting Effective Team Meetings - including the generation of team ideas and opinions. When possible, face to face meetings encourage greater relationship building amongst teams, however if teams are geographically dispersed the use of Skype and other technology can support this approach;
- Learning agility – encouraging and supporting team members to continually develop through formal, informal and on-the-job learning;
- Empower healthy conflict - incorporate a team stated terms of reference for interactions that describe and support healthy conflict;
- Encourage feedback – direct feedback and structured such as 360-degree team member review;
- Creating network collaboration opportunities within the team to get to know and understand each other. When teams understand the different work preferences of team members, the team can then understand how each other utilises information, makes decisions, communicates and operates, generating greater outcomes;
- Informal mentoring to support employee continuous development, this could be done via a number of avenues including in leaders one on one discussions with employees, incorporated into adhoc discussions or inviting employees to be involved or attend senior meetings or discussions; and
- Team Collaboration provides a competitive advantage to organisations, supports the achievement of team and organisational objectives via collaborative efforts and also enhances the kind of workplace people want to work at. A recruitment, retention and branding initiative that money can’t buy!
At Peel HR we are passionate about collaboration and have facilitated hundreds of team collaboration workshops with organisations who want to build collaborative workplaces. We would love to partner with your organisation to enhance your team’s effectiveness through our Team Collaboration Workshop.