Collaboration is defined as ‘the action of working with someone to produce something’. So what is a collaborative team? When considering this in practice, I have found using a football analogy particularly fitting…& topical!
Let me set the scene. You are Joachim Löw (Germany's World Cup winning manager) and are responsible for building a cohesive, effective and above all else collaborative team for your first World Cup game. Where do you start?
Here are my three key steps for building collaborative teams:
What is the goal?
Before you even start to consider building your team, what you’re aiming to achieve must be clear to all involved. Going back to the football analogy – what are you trying to achieve in this particular game? Is your strategy defensive or offensive? Are you going all out for a big score or are you going to be conservative and play for a draw? Knowing this will help define the “players” you need to select for your team.
Look at Germany, they set their goal as winning the world cup and put a photograph of the Maracana stadium - the location for the World Cup final - in their Football Federation’s reception so that everyone who worked there knew exactly what they were aiming for. Unlike the majority of teams who checked themselves into a Rio de Janeiro hotel for the duration of the tournament, private backers built a brand new resort including a floodlit Fifa-regulation football pitch and goalkeeper training facility and gave the German team first and exclusive use. In the run-up to the final German defender Benedikt Höwedes as quoted as saying “this village has been a major factor in building up the special team spirit in the group today”.
Understand the skill-sets of your ‘players’
Ultimately a team is made up of individuals and each individual may have a particular stand-out skill, quality, attribute or talent which can be used in forming an effective team. Here, at Greenlight, we use a profiling assessment called DISCOVER to better understand our people better on an individual level. The 4 DISC behavioural styles include;
Decisive – How an individual solves problems or achieves results (red)
Interactive – How an individual interacts with others & shows emotions (yellow)
Stabilising – How an individual responds to changes or pace in the environment (green)
Cautiousness - How an individual complies with procedures & protocols (blue)
Looking at the above DISC behavioural styles you may be able to assume a typical high red would make an effective striker, a high yellow a good midfielder (feeding the ball & reading the game/players), a high green &/or blue could be best utilised in defence where cautiousness & steadiness is key.
Bringing it back to the Germany team, your red would be the hero of the day, Mario Götze, your yellow would be Bastian Schweinsteiger, the green / blues would be Jérôme Boateng & Philipp Lahm.
Of course these are assumptions, and people are often a blend of different behavioural styles each with unique values which in turn shape who they are, how they perform & their role/effectiveness within a team.
With the game fast approaching you now understand your objectives and have a better understanding of your people, so the next step naturally is how to combine these individuals to form a cohesive, effective, collaborative team.
Select your ‘star players’
Using a profiling tool, such as DISCOVER, can help football and business managers alike with decisions such as building a collaborative team by enabling managers to understand their individuals but also understand how to combine individuals to create a collaborative team dynamic.
Could you imagine a team of detailed, analytical technicians? Or a team of dominant reds with equally matched competitive streaks? This would leave you with an ineffective team with little or no collaborative nature. Building teams, let alone collaborative teams, is all about balance. It’s all about “square pegs and square holes” and being “effective” as a team.
Sticking with the football analogy, imagine if every single player on the team was a striker or Germany had gone into the World Cup with 11 Manuel Neuer’s? It doesn't work, you need specialists in different areas in football and you need specialists in the various aspects of business as well.
So, those were my three key steps to building collaborative teams. What do you believe is the key ingredient for building collaborative teams?
About the Author
Kimberley was the first of our Graduates and boy has she excelled. She has become a true all round business analyst and project manager, delivering large scale change and handling complex business requirements.