Collaboration has become a buzzword in today’s workplaces. The underlying assumption: the sum of collaborative efforts will be greater in quality, quantity or speed than what any individual effort could carry out.
However, no collaboration – great or small – will happen without productive teamwork. Teamwork builds a foundation upon which the framework of collaboration can begin to take shape.
I have worked on teams for more than 30 years. Some were able to produce exceptional outcomes together. Others were overshadowed by the chaos of dysfunction.
What separates health from dysfunction? Here are four important facets:
To work well together, we must understand each other. This includes beliefs, values, passions and motivations. This kind of understanding can happen over something as simple as a cup of coffee – spending intentional time together and having dialogue that goes beyond surface level.
Trust is more than just saying, “I trust you.” It’s about being honest with yourself and others. The presence of trust is most evident in crisis and failure. Is it okay to fail on your team? In a supportive team environment, authentically asking for help is one of the best ways to build trust.
Are you comfortable enough with your identity not to pretend, suppose or hope you are someone or something else? By using self-knowledge tools like the Myers-Briggs, DISC and StrengthsFinder in tandem with others, you can gain valuable feedback, including how you perceive each other and can best play off each other’s strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses in the context of your team.
Not all roles and teams are perfect fits. Do you know where you excel and where you crash and burn? Under what working conditions do you thrive? Consider writing a personalized “perfect position” paper, outlining your discoveries. While the ideal role may not exist, having open dialogue about your insights may help you find your sweet spot.
These are only a few of the many components of healthy team functioning. There is no magic bullet in teamwork, but I know from experience it is possible.
By taking time to understand each other, practicing trust, knowing our individual and collective strengths and being honest with ourselves and our team, we are able to accomplish in community far more than we ever could alone.