Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fostering Collaboration

Collaboration is a hot topic in today's work environment. What leads to success with collaboration and how do we know when collaboration is the best approach? One of my favorite reads on the topic of collaboration is by Morten Hansen's Collaboration. As Hansen writes, " Bad collaboration is worse than no collaboration."

So what makes collaboration successful? Much of the research points to the following factors:
- There is a shared goal amongst those that are collaborating
- Shared commitment to success on the part of those involved

At the end of the day collaboration is based on strong relationships. Those collaborating need to be clear on WHERE they are going, WHAT is the purpose, and WHAT resources are available. Resources include the important component of people. What are the strengths each team/group member brings? What knowledge and skills do they offer? What gaps might exist?

Successful collaboration often rests on the skill set of those involved. Key skills for collaboration include enhanced communication skills including active listening, better questioning, as well as enhanced  skills in relationship management and influence. Many of these skills come under the umbrella of emotional intelligence.

Leaders should also consider what barriers might exist to effective collaboration, whether it is related to resourcing, goals (individual, team or organizational) which might conflict with collaboration, values, rewards and even compensation. While leaders may not have control over some of these areas (such as the compensation structure in an organization) shared identification of these barriers can be extremely useful, in creating a context for success.

As you consider your work this year ask yourself the following:
- When will collaboration be essential in my work?
- What are the specific goals around this project? Are the goals clear, and shared?
- What might create a barrier to collaboration?
- What is needed to make this successful (relationships, shared goal, commitment, resources)?

I look forward to sharing more on collaboration in future posts. The topic of collaboration, along with co-facilitation, is one of the chapters in my next book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, which will be released this June. 

Best Regards,

Jennifer Britton
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Potentials Realized
Leadership, Teamwork, Coaching and Retreats
Phone: 416-996-TEAM (8326)

Friday, March 01, 2013

Exploring Your Team Strengths

Significant research has been done by the Gallup organization and others on strengths, and strengths-based leadership. 

Did you know that:

  •         People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.
  •         Teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity.
  •        Teams that receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability.

(Source: Gallup Strengths Center,  https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/)

How aware are you or your team members about their strengths? Are you able to use these every day? 

Here are some possible ways for you to explore and start using your strengths:

1. Undertake a strengths assessment. Two strengths assessments I usually recommend and work with my team clients with are the StrengthsFinder 2.0 as well as VIA Strengths. Each strengths assessment takes about 30 minutes to complete and are available online.  Reports of varying length are generated when individuals complete each assessments. 

2. Spend time as a team looking at strengths.  Completing the assessment is not  a”be all and end all”. What is interesting and important is what emerges in conversation about our strengths. Whether you as a team dedicate part of a team meeting to discussing strengths or you set up a separate meeting (virtual or in person) about strengths, key is exploring:
- What strengths exist on the team?
- How are they being used?
- How are strengths not being used?
- What gaps exist? What patterns do you notice?
From my experience teams really benefit when they have the opportunity to move through a structured conversation, using an external facilitator to the team.  These conversations can take place in person, or virtually for those teams that are geographically dispersed. When I work with teams on this process, I recommend we spend at minimum 2 hours exploring the strengths and developing an action plan, optimally half a day, or part of a series of conversations.

3.  Sustain the focus - As part of your own team process, check in regularly and discuss  how strengths are being used in the team, and what gaps may be present, particularly if team members are changing. What strengths are required for different tasks facing the team? Who might find it easiest/most rewarding to take that project on? 

Resources I would recommend those interested in exploring strengths are:
StrengthsFinder 2.0 - Tom Rath
Strengths Based Leadership - Tom Rath, Barrie Conchie
Go Put Your Strengths to Work - Marcus Buckingham

Check out my other posts on strengths here at the blog.

What are your next steps to exploring, and using, your strengths?

Best regards

Jennifer Britton
Potentials Realized
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Phone: (416)996-TEAM (8326)