Collaboration is more important today than ever in getting your team’s results. Especially when it comes to engaging the millennial workforce. The ability to collaborate effectively in a team setting is an integral part of job satisfaction and productivity. And it’s easier said than done. Team harmony is a skill set, one that most companies don’t provide training on.

Research by ESI International found that less than a third of teams drive project success yet 65.5% of workers believe the project performance would improve if the team worked more collaboratively. The disconnect happens when team members lack foundational communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills.

With this in mind let’s take a specific look at the steps and methods to collaborate better with your team.

  1. Set Expectations. The groundwork for collaborating better starts with going over how the group will communicate and how they’re expected to act. It’s as simple as everyone agreeing to use instant messages, daily updates or online project boards such as Trello, Evernote or Basecamp to keep everyone in the loop. Part of the expectation involves agreeing to mutually respect each other and addressing conflict.
  2. Set A Goal. It’s easy to get lost in busy work or feel like you’re not contributing enough or too much to a collaborative goal. Setting personal goals and then team goals can give focus while relieving pressure on who is doing what.
  3. Develop Community. Developing a sense of community not only increases communication, it builds trust within a team. It’s also one skill you can work on no matter what position you’re in. Community development can come through sharing stories, organizing outings or activities or making a game out of project work. A community that learns to work in harmony together, produces better.

Dr. Srini Pillay speaks of the importance of connections between teammates. He calls it synchrony, the “neural process where the frequency and scale of brain waves of people become in sync.” Getting on the “same wavelength” makes everything more seamless when it comes to group effectiveness – “mutual understanding, cooperation, coordinated execution of tasks, and collective creativity.”

  1. Improvise. Highly collaborative teams improvise together to enhance innovation and creativity to solve problems and get things done. It’s a skill set to improvise and play off team members, react, and quickly fall in sync with others. It takes an open mind and emotional intelligence to pull off!

Understanding emotional intelligence is imperative to your ability to collaborate as well as increasing your paycheck. A person with high emotional intelligence knows how to feel out a situation, is open to addressing conflicts and able to take criticism.

A TalentSmart survey found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, and that “People with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money – an average of $29,000 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence.” Furthermore, the study found teams with a lot of high IQ people collaborated less effectively.

  1. Body Language. One of the biggest bits of personal development you can work on to improve collaboration is monitoring your own body language. Words, goals, funny stories and thinking you know how to act mean nothing if your body language doesn’t follow through. When people talk, do you give them your full attention? Do you look people in the eye? Do you interrupt people often? Nonverbal cues go a long way in telling others you don’t care or that you aren’t listening. Your nonverbal communication could be promoting tension and destroying trust.

listen at three levels

In Action

Take a look at leader and team synchrony in action? This video shows 120 of McKesson’s top 120 engineering and IT leaders participating in a program called Accelerating Team Performance where they learn key lessons enabling them to lead and collaborate more effectively.

Although this video shows a very complex type of music making, simpler activities can be imparted allowing leaders and teams to synchronize in just 5 to 15 minutes to kick off a team meeting, change initiative or conference.

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