Collaboration is a hit-or-miss proposition (and mostly a miss) in today’s organizations, according to Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, a teams expert with The Ken Blanchard Companies. The result is a huge loss in productivity and potential as “pseudo-teams” struggle with tasks that could have been accomplished more successfully if the team members worked together more effectively.
For leaders looking to improve their ability to bring people together to work collaboratively, Parisi-Carew recommends focusing on three key areas.
1. Lay a strong foundation. You’ve got to know where you’re going. As Parisi-Carew explains, “Many teams are brought together with no more thought than ‘We need a team to do this.’ So teams get formed rather sloppily many times, with only a vague charge. That typically translates into a team that doesn’t have a clear purpose or goal.”
2. Deal with conflict effectively. Avoiding differences of opinion will usually blow a team apart, or turn it into an apathetic group. When there is a difference of opinion, the group has to have a plan for how to decide on a course of action for moving forward. The good news is that when this is done right, conflict can lead to higher levels of trust, creativity, and accountability.
3. See yourself as a servant. Being a team leader includes a willingness to see yourself as a servant who guides the development of the team. This means remembering that the team leader’s role is to grow the team to self-sufficiency—not accomplish the task personally.
“That is a huge attitude change and that is why a lot of people struggle. They want to hold onto the power, but as long as they do, you’ll never have a high performing team.
“For example, if someone on the team is misbehaving, rather than allowing the team deal with it, the leader feels compelled to go in, take that person out, and deal with the disruptive behavior. And while that action may be expedient, it deprives the team of the opportunity to work through that experience, benefit from it, and move forward as a group.”
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The most successful companies use teams effectively. Good teaming and collaboration impacts productivity, morale, and creativity. To read more about Parisi-Carew’s thoughts on how to improve collaborative work in your organization read Don’t Leave Collaboration to Chance in the March issue of Ignite! Also check out a free webinar Parisi-Carew is conducting on March 23, Why Teams Fail—Dealing with Friction and Dissension. It’s a complimentary event hosted by Cisco WebEx.