Teams that collaborate speak up equally in meetings; they share knowledge freely; and they trust each other. Bottom line: open and effective team communication eliminates failures of empathy is group settings.
- As companies continue to go more and more global, individual achievement is often judged by how well that person can work within a team, and companies that have the most collaborative teams are generally more successful teams. A really great example of this in action is what's going on at Google. They actually did an internal research project called Project Aristotle that focused on why some teams were more successful than other teams.
They found that highly collaborative teams brought in a lot more revenue from their efforts. These terms were rated as effective by their managers twice as often as their peers, and their members were less likely to leave the company. Now, what can we learn from this study and how can you get some of those same benefits at your organization? First of all, highly collaborative teams speak up equally when they're in meetings, and this isn't a situation where everyone is forced to speak before they can go on with their day.
What's happening here is that each team person feels secure enough with themselves and their coworkers to chime in whenever they feel the need. If one person is taking up a significant chunk of time or if people are cautious when participating, this is a symptom of a bigger problem. Project Aristotle also revealed that the most successful teams were more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, and this is the second and very telling habit of highly collaborative teams.
Individual team members must feel comfortable communicating ideas in order to be great collaborators and build great products. If this isn't happening, you must address the underlying issue before you can be a highly collaborative team, and this only happens if your team trusts one another. So let's break down trust, because it's the most necessary collaboration component. Trust is defined as the firm belief in the reliability, the truth, the ability or the strength in someone or something, so a team that trusts each other believes in the abilities of all of their teammates.
There's no second guessing on competence and they are confident in exactly what their team members can do. Trustful teams are also honest teams. They don't lie or try to hide information from their coworkers. These teams know that the more open they are with each other the better job that they'll do as a collective and for this reason, teams with a foundation of trust are incredibly reliable.
They can focus on their specific tasks with a much higher level of concentration because they know that their coworkers are working just as hard and just as smart, and this leads us to the third habit of highly collaborative teams. Each member on that team has a defined role. Oftentimes, problems arise when people mistake the role that they have for the role that they wish they had.
To combat this, highly collaborative teams assign roles to people based entirely on their strengths. Each person knows that even if the role they are currently assigned is smaller or less glamorous than other roles, it's still vital to their team's overall success. Now, I get this all sounds great in theory because we've all been on teams where collaboration fails. Maybe a manager takes over the meeting or you work with people that you don't exactly feel comfortable asking questions around for fear of looking bad.
It could be that you just plain don't trust your team and you think the role you're assigned isn't right for whatever reason. In these situations, know that collaboration is failing because the empathy needed to communicate openly and effectively with your teammates is missing, so you have to remember that first, highly collaborative teams are made up of highly collaborative individuals and they prioritize one big habit above all others, empathy.
Second, teams that trust each other feel safe asking questions or suggesting something that's a little bit unusual. It takes empathy to not only be vulnerable enough to share ideas, but also to embrace the ideas of others that may be hesitant to do so. Finally, teams with defined roles are masters of empathy. They know that as projects change, roles change.
They are intimately aware of how difficult these changes can be, so they're patient and incredibly helpful when one of their team members is having a difficult time in their newly defined role. The main takeaway here is this. Highly collaborative teams prioritize open and effective team communication, both when speaking and when listening. They know that the most important habit to maintain a collaborative states is empathy.
- What is empathy?
- How to be empathetic at work
- Practicing positive communication
- Identifying communication styles
- Approaching difficult conversations
- Practicing empathy in groups
- Fostering collaboration
- Encouraging coworkers