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How to Encourage Team Collaboration

04/01/19 | Dana LaRieal Morales

Are you managing a team of scared workers or do they work together and focus on team collaboration?

Many years ago when I first became a manager I was managing with an iron fist and this is often the problem that many young or first-time managers make.  We want to be taken seriously and so we bring this no-nonsense approach to management and wonder why people don’t respect us.  What happens more times than not is your team actually fears you or misconstrues your intentions.  They are afraid to bring any problem to you because they assume they will get into trouble or that you won’t listen.  So instead, they try to hide issues or blame others.

Understand you are only as strong as your team and if your team doesn’t feel comfortable coming to you, then your team is weakened by that fear.  You want to have a fully collaborative team.  One that trusts and respects each other and you.  Now I know that seems like an oxymoron…What, A team that actually works together?  It is possible and I’m going to share with you how to begin the building (or rebuilding) process:

Team collaboration requires you be the example

Now, this may seem like an obvious step, but you don’t know how many people I see wanting their team to do as they say not as they do.  The Managers I respect the most are those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.  The ones that are right there along with everyone else staying late when necessary and being part of the solution and not the problem.  They help take impediments out of my way so their team can focus on their job.

  • If you want people to be on time, then you be on time. 
  • Having an issue with respect, then you need to respect your team. 
  • Want your team to support each other, then you support them. 

It’s pretty easy and will make a huge impact on your team.

Collaborative teams deal in facts not opinions

When problems arise or decisions have to be made, do you often side with what sounds best or do you really look at all the facts first before deciding?  Many managers tend to fall short because their team (or specific team members) learn how to play the game.  They know which things are important to the Manager and they focus on those and omit key facts that they know will not lean in their favor. Remember to focus on the facts of the issue and that will yield much better results.  Don’t accept opinions as fact, instead, make sure to dig deeper to get to the root cause or solution.

A team that is collaborating learns to ask key questions

You guys know I am all about the questions - who, what, when, where, how, and why…those are easy things to ask but when you really concentrate on them and the answers you find out that they are really powerful.  We want to purchase XYZ, well why do you want to purchase it, how do you plan to purchase it, when do you anticipate this purchase happening, what will this purchase yield us, etc.  If our team begins to understand you are going to want answers to these questions they will begin to come prepared.  Don’t provide the answers, just provide the questions which are the roadmap to the right answers.

Team collaboration is rooted in problem-solving

I learned this years ago from one of my mentors.  When presenting a problem you should always present a solution.  Don’t just be the person who rains on the parade or the dreaded individual that always finds fault with the ideas of others.  Present the problem or concern, and then offer up a plausible solution or two of how to fix it. 

This also shouldn’t be a time when you just want to throw out another’s idea.  Take that idea into consideration and come up with an alternative solution. The key is to truly understand the problem(s) at hand and conduct a holistic review of the problem. 

These represent just four areas where you can begin to improve your team collaboration.