Team Collaboration Does Not Mean Team Building
The Trouble with Teams
We hire bright, eager employees with excitement for the talent they will bring to our teams. Their education, experience, and work ethic promise to be key components to round out our teams. We then take them on the trendiest team building events talked about in the latest business publications. Maybe a fishing excursion, or going to the woods for three-legged races, and trust falls. Regardless, we end up in the same place: great individuals with disconnected teams.
Making Better Decisions
Team building is just fluff and deep down you already know this. What your team needs is specific tools that will help them interact, and lead them to creating better results in a faster period of time for their organization. This is what really matters!
Teaching your team how to make better decisions will help achieve this objective. There are three stages in the framework of how people are motivated to make decisions and take action:
• information gathering;
• deliberation; and
Employees have fixed and predictable patterns where they emphasize more or less of their time between these stages, impacting collaboration and effectiveness. Recognizing this is the first step to making changes that can impact your results.
Those spending most of their time gathering information will be well informed and want to minimize risk before taking action. However, this can also hold up progress towards completion. Some will always feeling that more information is needed. At some point, good is good enough. They need to move on! It needs to be someone else on the team’s responsibility to make this determination.
Others may spend much of their time deliberating, deciding what to do based on priorities, process and what they will stand behind. Too much deliberation can also lead to conflicts, sometimes if they aren’t considering the information provided which leads to bias, or when others push them to execution without proper structure and priorities in place.
Yet others may prefer to jump to execution, figuring out the information and process they need along the way. These individuals will be impatient with those needing more time to gather information or to deliberate. Instead of Ready, Aim, Shoot, they just Shoot first, and look around to see how it turned out. A bias toward action needs to be tempered with good information and deliberation.
First, you should identify the different decision-making patterns of your team members. By identifying these patterns, strategies can be implemented to avoid conflict during collaboration. If differences are recognized; even if conflicts are not avoided, the differences can be directed into a more effective decision making process. Also, making the team members aware of the different patterns of their co-members can do much to reduce annoyance among team members.
If your team is in a situation, where like has hired like, you may have a skewed team with an overemphasis of team strengths and enhanced blind spots. Bringing in a consultant or a new hire with a different pattern than your team can be of value.
The other component in team collaboration is the impact of individual interaction style preferences. Do you remember the cliché interview question, “Do you like to work alone or do you like to work in teams?” The interviewer rolls their eyes in their imagination when they hear the cliché answer “both." While, this is true; individuals tend to switch their preference between collaboration and independence based on their current stage of decision-making.
One may need to collaborate with others when gathering information, switch to being independent and shut people out when they are deciding what to do, and then back to being a team player when executing. Others may need to become well informed on their own, then bring that information to the table to encourage universal consensus and then divide the work and execute independently.
The challenge in team collaboration enters when you have some members on the team that need to collaborate in a stage and others that need to be independent. There could be this potential mismatch in each of the three phases in decision-making, which leads to weak teams.
One solution is to structure a deliberate sharing process in at least one stage of decision-making which will increase collaboration and effectiveness of the team. Ideally, management will occur in all phases, which is ideal and leads to even greater success.
Team Collaboration in Real Life
We worked with a legal team of four people, and one of the men carried a high level of annoyance for another individual on the team. When we analyzed the decision-making patterns and interaction styles of the entire team, we saw that the man spent more time in the deliberative stage but had an independent/private interaction style in the stage. Meaning, he needed to decide what to do on his own without the influence of others.
The co-worker who annoyed him had a preference to being collaborative in this stage so would ask the man endless questions. She couldn't proceed to execute until she understood the intentions of the entire team. This situation quickly turned into a workplace annoyance dynamic, bordering on "I hate that person!” Once these patterns were brought out into the open, the irritation dissolved and the team's collaboration and effectiveness significantly increased.
Recognizing and adopting these changes will lead to better organizational results and improved collaboration in your teams.
Also Read : “Actually” Impress Your Boss