Competition is often the fuel that drives people to accomplish their goals and achieve new heights. In some fields, such as direct sales, individual competition may be necessary—and even helpful—to motivate growth. However, in a field such as my own that requires constant collaboration and problem solving, I find that competing as a team vs. individually yields more rewarding results. There’s not an absence of competition, just a conscious focus of that energy externally versus internally.
Fostering a collaborative work environment and a “team first” mentality helps create a sense of shared responsibility toward a greater purpose and the overall success of the team or company.
I recognize that the spirit of collaboration doesn’t always come naturally. Building trust and creating harmony and synergy—especially with a newly-formed team—is a process that requires continuous evaluation and adjustment.
Here are 5 ways collaboration can get derailed and my top tips for getting teamwork back on track:
1. Not having clear, aligned goals up front
TIP: Determine what is needed to provide the best solution to the challenge at hand, not to aid in anyone’s personal agenda. Document and publish the goals of the project so there is no ambiguity. Later, if there is conflict, this shared charter can help act as a true north.
2. Having the wrong people in place
TIP: Thoughtfully build your team. Bringing together a group of people with diverse talents produces output that far exceeds the quality of work produced by one individual—no matter how talented that individual may be.
Assign roles and responsibilities. Every person on your team has a unique talent or skill that they can leverage and continue to strengthen. Build your teams so that each person can contribute their very best work and celebrate the group as a whole rather than disproportionately recognize individual efforts.
If there’s potential for overlap, it can be helpful to use the playful reminder to “stay in your swim lane!”
3. Lack of accountability
Tip: Set crystal clear expectations and encourage your team members to help hold you and one another accountable. Consider adopting regular feedback protocols that encourage candid appraisals.
4. Poor communication
TIP: Schedule times to connect to help ensure everyone continues to work toward your shared goals. The frequency and depth of these check-ins depends on the project, team, and stage in the project. Sometimes daily “stand-ups” to ensure accountability and bust roadblocks may be needed.
That said, emphasize that issues or concerns should be addressed immediately in lieu of waiting until the next scheduled check-in.
TIP: It’s natural for your team members to have different work styles and on new teams, we frequently see members championing different approaches. There can be a time to evaluate the right approach but once the team has aligned, everyone should adopt it and move forward.
Throughout your project, identify, recognize, and leverage best practices. When your team implements an approach that works, encourage members to apply it to other situations and endorse it on other teams.
I hope you find these tips both practical and effective as you reflect on 2018 and prepare your teams for success in 2019. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these tips and how you’ve found success fostering a collaborative workplace environment!
Meet Molly Lane
As the VP, Director of Client Services at Core-Rx Communications, I have over 15 years of experience leading talented healthcare communications teams to grow client brands and agency revenues.
The mission of WeInspireWe is to support and empower female leaders and this is consistent with what I’ve always tried to do with myself and my teammates.
In various management roles throughout my career, I’ve cherished:
Building teams that work towards one unified goal
Experiencing the sheer joy and pride that occurs when seeing my teammates realize their full potential
Helping my teammates navigate life changes with confidence and create harmony with work
What I find most gratifying is that people who I managed many years ago continue to use me as a sounding board and feel comfortable enough to reach out to me for both personal and professional advice.
Please connect with me! Don’t forget to include a note letting me know how you found me and why you’d like to connect.