Both communication and collaboration get a lot of attention when you work in teams. What happens when you bring them together – is there a particular way to communicate within teams that enhances collaboration? The nature of communication within a team is inherently different from one-on-one communication.
What could be guidelines for collaborative communication within your team? First would be the acknowledgement, by all team members, that they each have a voice that matters. That is a value that will generate respect for, and support the dignity of, each individual. Another may be identifying the methods you will use to assure that what needs to be communicated will be – possibly through staff meetings, reports, written and oral communication. Focus is needed on how the team communicates – choice of words, body language, emotional intelligence, what is communicated to whom. Communication should reflect respect for the diversity of the team – taking that into consideration, as each team member communicates.
Collaboration is something that takes effort- communication within a collaboration deserves that effort as well. How is the collaboration communication within your team?
photo: Apple’s Eyes Studio, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Someone once advised me to live life as an arrow, not a target. In your managing, do you have a clear sense of where you and your team are going? Having a destination in mind allows you to focus and align your and your team’s energy in a common direction.
Goals help you do this, but it takes more than goals. You have to address the journey that will get you to your goals. The journey is comprised of plans, communication, resources, course changes, collaboration and periodic reassessment.
Take a moment to answer the question “Where are you going?” Is your answer a clear one? Would your team offer the same answer? The next question is “What are you doing to get there?” Is the path to your destination laid out clearly, with buy-in from your team?
“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
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I regularly find myself wishing that people could get to “the truth of it” more often than they do. In organizations, there is an overabundance of hidden agendas, talking around things, not getting to the point, sidebar conversations and reluctance to address things directly. Much of this comes down to manipulation – truth does not serve someone’s purpose – or fear- if you speak the truth, you may get burned.
Of course there is risk in speaking the truth, but organizations could create cultures and environments that minimize this risk. In doing so, they will find that efficiency and collaboration increases. What are some ways to advance a message that truth is welcome? Develop some guidelines for positive communication. I found the book Crucial Conversations to have good advice on how to communicate positively on sensitive subjects. Do not admonish or penalize team members for speaking the truth. Expose manipulative action and agendas and let team members know they are not welcome.
In many organizations, these are huge changes and blithely telling the truth without a supportive culture does have risks. Start slowly and go step by step. If you can get upper management’s attention on this, do it. Cultivate a truthful culture for your own team. Start in non-threatening ways. For example, creating a safe environment for honest feedback.
There is wisdom in the phrase that the truth shall set you free. Go for “the truth of it” in your organization.
“Entitled”, “Inexperienced”, “Innovative”, “Misunderstood”, “Social Activists”. These descriptions of the millennial generation (roughly 18-30 year olds) were given by the audience at a New York University alumni event I attended this week. The event featured David Burstein, author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World.
There is a promise for all of us who dialogue and take time to understand this generation, that is now moving out in the world. Blending their perspectives with those of other generations can advance us as a society and global community. They bring to the table a strong entrepreneurial drive, a sense of their own agency, a new brand of social activism rooted in pragmatic idealism, a high level of technological competency, a natural inclination towards collaboration and a healthy skepticism (and sometimes rejection) of our traditional institutions.
The millennial generation embodies the major shifts our societies are now encountering. How powerful it will be if all generations can come together to create a better world.
Within collaborations there are important nuances to be aware of. One of them is to find the line between collaboration and devaluing yourself. While collaboration is increasingly the way we work, it is equally important to honor your own individuality and values. Collaboration does not mean sacrificing yourself for a team or group. It means finding the way that a team of individuals can work together harmoniously and productively.
Here are some signs that can indicate that you may have crossed the line between collaborating and sacrificing.
• Another person(s) is dominating the conversation and your voice is stifled
• You find yourself in emotionally charged conversations with team members where you focus on what you want them to do differently, rather than focusing on what you need from the collaboration
• The project is proceeding in a way that is not going to achieve its goal and the team is not working to improve the situation. You are worried about delivering and how this might affect your reputation
• You find your stress level rising about working with the team and you have not defined clear boundaries for your work with them
• You are not honoring your values
Can you identify other signs?
You gain nothing, and often lose, by sacrificing yourself. Don’t do it. Each member of a team matters. That is the challenge of collaboration: to find a way to work together that honors the individuality and contributions of all team members, including you.