Communication - Collaboration - Teamwork
Updated: Aug 25, 2021
By Chuck Cusumano and Jillian Broaddus
In a collaborative environment, employees are more likely to stick to a task than those who go at it alone.
At least, that is what research revealed, according to an article in Forbes Magazine.
Ultimately, this research showed that when employees worked in a collaborative environment – among a team – they were 64% more likely to stick with a task than those who were individual contributors working in a non-collaborative space.
But that is not all: It is reported that these employees experienced higher levels of engagement, lower fatigue levels, and higher success rates than those who worked as solitary contributors.
With this as a guideline, it seems that working in a collaborative manner is good for an employee – not to mention good for the bottom line.
Collaboration is Key
It might seem obvious, but collaboration is crucial for teamwork.
Think about it. If you have a group of people working alongside each other on a project, you technically have a workgroup; the difference between a workgroup and a team is that beautiful word, collaboration.
Sure, a workgroup can – and will – produce results. Why? Because their work is the result of all of their individual efforts added together to create an output. They are the sum total of their individual parts.
But a team is different.
A team is collaborative, which means they can produce a sum greater than the total of their individual parts.
As consultants, we often engage with organizations that say their team is not performing to their desired standards.
And usually, once we take a deep dive into the actions (or mostly lack thereof) of the group forming the team, we find they are behaving as a workgroup, not an actual team.
Teamwork is always important, but especially now as so many companies and their workers struggle to navigate the newness of the remote-COVID-19 workplace.
Because of this, we believe we should focus our attention and actions on HOW we work rather than so much emphasis on WHERE we work.
Look at it this way: even if your company returns to the “normal” work routines of pre-pandemic times, without healthy functional communication systems and skills in place, you may be worse off!
The days of endless video meetings may be evidence of why we need to be in a central location face-to-face – or were they evidence that our communication techniques and systems are not really that mature or robust?
Or maybe, just maybe, the real evidence is that it does not matter if we are face-to-face or not. Maybe the actual challenge is that we do not communicate well in the first place.
Without Communication, There is No Collaboration
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke
In the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” the actor Strother Martin utters that famous line.
That quote is powerful. And not just to me. In fact, that quote is ranked by the American Film Institute at #11 on their list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time.
There is something quite unfortunate about this quote, though. It is a common issue in the business world.
All too often, we see instances where an employee struggles to be part of a functioning team. Or worse, we see circumstances where a leader in an organization is having a hard time getting consistent results from their team.
The problem here?
They are not behaving like a team at all; they are just behaving like a group of individuals who happen to work in the same group.
Or, in other words, each person is seeking what is best for themselves.
Collaboration, Communication, & Teamwork – Bringing the Three Together
By now, you are probably wondering about the title of our blog. Do us a favor and hang in there for a few more paragraphs.
First, allow us to take you on a brief journey to show you why we believe you simply cannot have a high-performing team without collaboration. And importantly, why you cannot achieve collaboration without quality communication.
The point? Almost every issue can be traced back to a failure to communicate.
In the book The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni shares how his years of research have helped him reveal the three virtues of an ideal team player: Humble, Hungry, and Smart.
“Humility,” he states, “is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”
Lencioni concludes with this defining statement:
“A person that is not humble will not be able to be vulnerable and build trust, making them unable to engage in honest conflict and hold others accountable.
And they’ll have a hard time committing to decisions that don’t serve their interests.”
In his other best-selling book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni explains that the absence of trust leads to other dysfunctions. Why? Because trust is the foundation of a team.
Mark Miller, in his book The Secret of Teams, shows us that to have a high-performing team, you must build community. And one of the key elements of building community is to build trust.
Here is what we know about trust: trust is built on our actions. So, being consistent in how we behave and our ability to communicate effectively is what catalyzes trust-building.
That is not just our opinion.
Indeed, an online recruiting and job listing company, recommends when posting or reviewing a resume that communication skills are listed as one of your most important attributes.
Interpersonal skills like communication are the foundation of collaboration.
Of those skills, we believe that active listening, sharing feedback, empathy, respect, and non-verbal cues are the most important.
What do all of these skills have in common? They are incredibly challenging to accomplish online.
If engaged workers delivering higher productivity who experience less burnout is the result of collaboration, and if collaboration is required for teams to perform at their highest levels, then maybe we should all be less concerned with where people work and more concerned with how they are trained to communicate.
Until we master this, we are basically just shooting in the dark, never knowing what, if anything, is really the golden ticket for success.
If we take this unique period in time to reestablish and retrain ourselves and our systems for effective communication and not waste our time on trying to decide when is the best time to get back to our “normal” communication, we may come out of this pandemic cycle like a slingshot – pulled backward in order to propel further forward.
Would you like help creating a communication system that brings your company success? Are you interested in more information on how to collaborate and produce at a higher level?
Reach out to us at 404-432-0181 or email us at email@example.com. We will do our best to convey our passion and commitment to helping you do what you do – better!