4 TRAITS of HIGHLY COLLABORATIVE TEAMS.

If you are reading this article, you already understand that working collaboratively is essential to the success of your business, your organization, or your agency. You understand that you are a part of the team but not the team itself. You understand that collaboration is a verb and not a noun. It requires commitment and it requires trust. Though you deeply understand these dynamics, you know that your team is more cooperative than it is collaborative. What is the difference you ask? The difference is rooted in these five(5) highly effective traits that are common on HIGHLY effective collaborative teams.

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE COLLABORATIVE TEAMS UNDERSTAND THE BOUNDARIES OF CONFIDENTIALITY

Cooperative teams understand confidentiality but may not commit to confidentiality.  There is a general understanding that team members will respect what is being said in a meeting and that the purpose of the meeting is largely intended to share information.  That said, highly collaborative teams not only understand confidentiality, they COMMIT to confidentiality.  Highly effective collaborative teams set “norms” and expectations at the onset of a meeting and discuss what confidentiality looks like.  Rather than state or imply: “what is said in this room, stays in this room”; highly collaborative teams will ask the question:  what does professional trust look like?  Asking this question, minimizes the possibilities of passive aggressive parking lot conversations that can quickly erode the professional trust in any meeting room.

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE COLLABORATIVE TEAMS CHECK THEIR ORGANIZATIONAL EGO’S AT THE DOOR

Too often the person with the most positional authority on a team carries the most influence( ie. the chair, the position ect…) which truly undermines the highly effective collaborative team.  Team members quickly anchor themselves in what the person is saying and because of their influence, collaboration is erodes and influence becomes the currency of the conversation.  In this environment, teams get seduced into a conversation about being right, thinking it is collaboration, and in reality they are handing over their collaborative power to the the person who has them most influence.  Collaborative team members approach meetings with no political agenda.  Collaborative team members, in essence, are focused on the collective purpose of the team as opposed to their organizations’ “ego” or mandates.  They are committed to serving the mission of the team first and their organization second.  Highly collaborative teams have a collective purpose.

HIGHLY COLLABORATIVE TEAMS UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COOPERATION AND COLLABORATION

The true enemy of collaboration is politeness.  Sounds bold doesn’t it.  I am not suggesting that we go to our team meetings on the attack or packed with “agenda aggression”.  What I am suggest is that highly collaborative teams commit to promoting a culture of learning as opposed to a culture of nice.  Being “nice” gets us no where.  Leading with a curiosity that challenges the status quo of the team promotes a culture of learning.  Here is a great visual on some other differences between cooperation and collaboration (Spencer, J.) 

HIGHLY COLLABORATIVE TEAMS UNDERSTAND THAT THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS. 

Having a collectively clear and defined understanding of the teams purpose is the conduit to ensuring a team is collaborative rather than cooperative.  I like what Spencer has suggested in the above picture.  Collaborative teams are in a constant state of interdependence.  To achieve this, teams must spend and dedicate time, preferably at the beginning; to decide it’s purpose.  One of the team members has to ensure that political agendas are not driving the purpose, but rather; what is it that “we” want to accomplish by the end of the year.  What do those accomplishments look like( describe the actions associated with it).  I have coined a phrase that is critical to this process: “surgeons cannot operate on themselves”.  If your team is too close to the politics, I humbly suggest that coaching can bring you to your collective purpose in a laser like way.  Have a look at this website and see how I can help you and your team with this.  Better yet, take me up on my free twenty minute integration coaching consultation.

HIGHLY COLLABORATIVE TEAMS CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES.

Too often teams forget to create the time and space to celebrate their collective victories.  I am fortunate to work with highly collaborative teams across Canada who are committed in making their respective communities safe( NACTATR.COM). The teams that sit back and celebrate their small victories are the teams that are highly functional.  Celebration reinforces the teams’ purpose, the individual commitment of the team members, and most importantly provides a sense of community purpose for those members.  Team members, consciously and unconsciously want to belong and be validated in a team.

Patrick Rivard is a highly respected INTEGRATION COACH rooted in his purpose to integrate team members “will and and skill” in creating safe and inclusive communities for children.