COLLABORATIVE TEAMS

EIGHT WAYS TO BUILD COLLABORATIVE TEAMS

By Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson

The successful execution of a major initiative requires a complex team comprised of many educated specialists from diverse backgrounds. However, while the complexity of a team may be beneficial to an initiative, it can also make collaboration extremely challenging. To maximize the effectiveness of large, complex teams, the following eight practices are recommended:

1. Invest in building and maintaining social relationship practices. Executives can build and maintain social relationships throughout their organizations with “signature practices,” or highly visible investments that demonstrate commitment to collaboration.

2. Model collaborative behavior. Executive teams must support a culture of collaboration by making their own collaborative efforts visible to the rest of their organizations.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 01.28.49

3. Create a “gift culture.” A “gift culture” is one where employees view interactions with leaders and colleagues as valuable and generous. This can be cultivated if executives embed mentoring and coaching into their routine behavior and throughout their companies.

4. Ensure the requisite skills. Collaboration improves when HR departments teach employees how to build relationships, communicate well, and resolve conflicts.

5. Support a strong sense of community. People are more likely to reach out to others and share knowledge when they feel a sense of community. HR can foster a community spirit by sponsoring events like networking groups or weekend gatherings.

6. Assign team leaders who are task- and relationship-oriented. The most successful team leaders are able to be task-oriented in the beginning stages of a project and shift to being relationship builders as conflict between members arises.

7. Build on heritage relationships. As people are reluctant to share knowledge with strangers, it is necessary to ensure team members know one another.

8. Ensure role clarity and task ambiguity. Cooperation increases when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined but the path to the achieving the team’s goal is left somewhat ambiguous. Task ambiguity promotes creative thinking and collaboration.

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