Team collaboration is what makes a team. Without it, you don’t have a team. Instead, you have a bunch of people working at the same time. However, true teams do more. They use collaboration to synergize.
Be that as it may, collaboration is not an intrinsic human need or priority. In fact, we learn to collaborate. And it’s a difficult process. This process has helped us achieve a lot. Most modern achievements are the result of collaboration.
Sure, you can cultivate greatness without collaboration. While writing poetry as a team might be fun, this is a one-person job. Also, a lot of other activities are not team activities. And that’s fine.
Team collaboration can be a metric on which you benchmark productivity. Yet, we should not confuse regular productivity with synergized productivity. In synergized productivity, the overall result is greater than the sum of inputs. Work has a final result of a value superior to the elements of work. For example, a Tesla S is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet, people could be very productive producing the parts. In this case, there is no added value, no synergy.
Team collaboration is, at its core, a way to develop synergy. And it brings that extra something to the table. Also known as the team effect. Something that goes beyond individuals or groups of individuals. True synergy.
What’s unfortunate is that centuries of progress have done little for collaboration. Often, team collaboration goes wrong. Read this to find out why, and try the 3 fully-detailed steps that can help fix all these issues.
Team collaboration gone wrong – the usual suspects
What’s lurking behind team collaboration gone wrong? Typically, it starts with individuals, and there are ways how you can help them.
Perpetuated lack of trust
Teams add individual strengths and subtract individual weaknesses. This is why teams are more than the sum of their parts. Individual weaknesses are negatives. Subtract those from all the positives. And you add a positive to a sum of positives.
Hence, the trust issue. Everybody broadcasts the positives. Yet, what you need to know is the negatives.
For this, you want team members to share negatives. And this means to open up and be vulnerable. Being vulnerable with others is tough. Also, it requires trust and comfort. Without them, people merely pretend to be doing well.
When team members cannot be vulnerable together, they cannot collaborate.
Solution: Team buildings are the most effective solution to develop trust. Preferably done in-house first. They’re even more effective than a salary increase.
Conflict aversion and avoidance
Most people shy away from conflict. Conflict avoidance appears to be a win-win strategy. Hence, team members prefer to agree and not fight back.
Instead, they should do it. Difference of opinions has a very positive side. While being a valuable self-affirmation tool, constructive conflicts also offer insight and help teams advance in finding a solution to a given problem.
Conflict management is a practical embodiment of this philosophy. Use conflict to better yourself. Drive yourself to improvement. Also, drive conflicts so that you generate value.
After all, knowledge about conflict management is widespread. This makes the lost value of directing conflicts an opportunity cost. And it’s a hefty price to pay.
Solution: Keep difference of opinions at the constructive level and make it useful for the team. As a manager, it is your job to supervise this process and end it when it reaches its purpose.
Superficial commitment and ambiguity
All in favor of decision A, say Ay! People who don’t take part in team efforts are easy to spot. Either underperforming, counterproductive or both. Easy to spot, easy to fix.
On the other hand, there are those with superficial commitment. Such people don’t consolidate with team decisions. Instead of openly debating their point of view, they follow.
And they vote yes today. Tomorrow, they lose heart and hate the work they do. And they tone down enthusiasm and productivity. If asked, it’s someone else’s fault. And display passive-aggressive behavior. Why? Because they did not feel comfortable with presenting their own point of view. Team pleasers that could’ve used some public speaking training. The damage is subpar achievements. And it contributes to perpetuating lack of trust.
Solution: Public speaking training. Ideally with an experienced debate coach.
Insufficient feedback equals lack of accountability
Team collaboration suffers when members engage in two types of behavior. Either they are unaccountable or they fail to hold others accountable.
Inefficient practices, counterproductive behavior, negative conflicts, superficial harmony. All issues that one ca act upon, have them discussed, and shared with the team.
Criticize in private, praise in public. This one key principle allows teams to develop, to progress.
Teams require more involvement than mere work. Team collaboration is work plus interpersonal dynamics. And a huge component of those dynamics is feedback. After all, teamwork is a process in which complementary skills intertwine. This process cannot happen without feedback and holding each other accountable.
Solution: Effective communication. This and best practices on offering constructive feedback.
No end-game, no vision
Team collaboration is a consensus of individual efforts. Team collaboration and personal interest don’t work well together. Personal interest damages team collaboration. Selfishness, egotism, self-aggrandizing attitudes.
We’re not even referring to backstabbing practices. Or taking credit for someone else’s work. Or even the work of an entire team. Simply put, the end-game of any team member should always be the achievement of the team.
Conversely, teams should appreciate and balance personal sacrifice. After all, work and life should balance evenly. Working overnight might save the team once. Doing this repeatedly might strain you.
Team collaboration is a team process, not an individual one. When individuals cannot see the target, the team will lose members on track.
Solution: Another team building. Perhaps a series of identity trainings too. The fix for this issue starts with recruiting.
How team collaboration fixes all issues
Collaboration is far from natural human behavior. In fact, the instinct to collaborate ranks behind other instincts, such as flight or fight. In spite of decades of education and experience, people still fail to collaborate.
Developing a group of people into a team requires quite an investment. Even when each of the members is an amazing asset, teams may fail to collaborate. Sometimes things can go beyond the point of salvage.
While a reboot may be necessary, it is not always possible. Why care? Without collaboration, you have no team. And you should want to change that as much as possible.
Step 1. The right context – the team is on a ship
Ensuring team collaboration means offering the right context. Soon-to-be teams often receive a package of instruction and development. It’s crucial that this step opens up people. And it makes them share and build together.
In case of newcomers to old teams, doing onboarding the right way is a must. After all, you are all on a ship. The space is limited, you are all crammed. And you figure out solutions for everything.
Step 2. Take the pulse, check the winds, watch the sea
Routinely check for collaboration efforts. Take the pulse of your team. See how each member feels, then check how the whole team feels. While investigating, motivate towards achieving collaboration.
Pay special attention to meetings. You might think that meetings are an opportunity for teams. And that meetings are where teams hang. In fact, meetings are chronically counter-productive. And even well-cemented teams have issues with meetings.
To get rid of bad meetings, you can try these 3 clever tricks and focus on whatever is necessary. Don’t stretch it. The keyword here is focus. And that’s what you do in the last step.
Step 3. Collaborative teamwork solutions are here to stay
This is one bit of exciting news. Collaborative teamwork solutions are technologies that build team collaboration, and Hubgets is one. This app designed for teams of any size keeps both in-office and remote team members on the same page, while tracking, storing, and indexing all team communications. It lets people instantly discuss tasks and projects, while sharing resources right in the context – where they are relevant. This way, you can have 80% of the meeting covered and dissolved. Instead of twice per week, you could hold face-to-face meetings only twice per month. And save countless work hours. Also, make everyone really happy. we all know, people are very unhappy in meetings 😉
New tech is more amazing than ever and it’s here to stay. Either get onboard or deal with the same problems over and over again.