Team collaboration achieves more than a single individual can on his or her own. As new disruptions shake the market and processes grow even more complex, work tasks are becoming increasingly challenging, leaving you dependent on different people with a wide range of expertise.
But here is the catch. This kind of workplace diversity can also create barriers to efficient team collaboration.
According to research published in Harvard Business Review by Lynda Gratton and Tamara J.Erickson, team members collaborate more easily and naturally if they perceive themselves alike. Meaning, the greater the diversity of background and experience, the less likely the team members are to share knowledge or show other collaborative behaviors.
Here’s the disturbing controversy: On one hand, it’s proven that similar people work well together. On the other hand, as work tasks continue to get more complex, people with different kinds of expertise and background are forced to work together.
How do you overcome this challenge? Here are five techniques to try:
Leaders rely on the knowledge of their team members, which is why collaboration is becoming an essential ingredient for success. Therefore, your leadership style should reflect this. In general, collaborative leadership is all about the skillful management of relationships that enable the team members to succeed individually while also accomplishing a mutual objective. Although it’s easier said than done, it’s clear more focus should be directed toward resourceful relationship management.
To move toward one direction, people need to clearly understand the destination. Objectives and Key Results (OKR), a technique used by Google to define and track objectives and their outcomes, is worth a try. Its main goal is to connect company, team, and individual objectives with measurable results. A great value in OKR is its ability to clearly communicate leaders’ expectations and connect different-level goals into one whole. Since these goals are kept public in front of everyone, the teams can move in one direction and know what others are focusing on.
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft Office, professionals waste up to 3.8 hours a week on unproductive meetings. No matter what you call them–status updates or team gatherings–these meetings will be seen as a waste of time if there is no value in them. You can turn this around with thorough preparation, because if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
If there is one effective process that can be easily taken from companies like eBay and Skype, it is the Progress, Plans, Problems (PPP) process. This process is a management technique for recurring status reporting. The PPP process provides a great overview of how everyone on the team is doing. It communicates three essential parts about every team member: biggest achievements, current goals, and major challenges.
Working in a team should not feel like an obligation. Integrating a little bit of fun and humor to all of this can only make the team collaboration more efficient. Socializing and getting to know each other makes the team more dynamic and connected.
—Külli Koort is a fierce proponent of achieving more with less frenetic effort. That’s why she works at Weekdone, a startup that builds status report software for managers who wish to gain more insights to their teams. You can connect with her on Twitter.