Three Ways to Improve Workplace Collaboration

Have you ever been part of a team that clicked? Such teams share an unspoken connection, as if members can read each other’s minds. If you’ve had the privilege of being part of such a team, consider yourself lucky. Why are these types of connections so difficult and rare? What sets these teams apart? Years ago, I was “voluntold” to revamp our onboarding process. My objective was learning why our candidates were dropping out and — more importantly — fix it. During our kick-off meeting, my team was nowhere near clicking; an awkward tension filled the room.

We clearly needed a change; the prospect of enduring more awkwardness was unbearable. We gathered again a couple of days later and started the meeting with small talk. The awkwardness remained, so I decided to ask a deeper question: “What gets you out of bed in the morning?” I was surprised at the depth of each response. Members opened up, sharing life experiences, passions, and aspirations, seemingly inviting us into their inner world.

I learned an important lesson – it’s very easy to miss the unique qualities and perspectives our colleagues bring to the table. Even teams that seem to read each other’s mind likely did not start that way. Thus inspired, I was motivated to maintain the momentum. I immersed myself in studying the characteristics of effective teams and decided to put those insights into practice. The results were dramatic; here are three steps that made it happen:

1) Building rapport before diving into the task is critical.

During that initial team meeting, it was clear that trust was lacking. Someone needs to take the initiative to get people talking, but bridging that gap can be difficult. I considered different ways to create trust. Small talk may not help form real bonds and deeper understanding. I was determined to delve below the superficial, striving to genuinely learn about each member.

Go Beyond the Surface – Here’s your first challenge. Ask each member to share a personal story that has shaped who they are today. Encourage meaningful revelations; be prepared to lead by example and share first. This exercise can create a deeper connection among team members, break down communication barriers, and build the trust essential for effective collaboration.

2) Being vulnerable with others.

My team was reluctant to share their personal side without trust; I realized that setting an example would make others feel more comfortable opening up. So I took the vulnerable step of sharing my own life mission first. Admittedly, I was initially uncomfortable, but my team’s positive response proved it was worth the risk. That small step acted as the catalyst, setting the stage for openness that eventually grew into a trusting team bond.

Open Up – In your next team meeting or 1:1 conversation, proactively share a personal story or experience that you wouldn’t typically reveal in a professional setting. It could be a life lesson, a moment of vulnerability, or an insight into your passions and aspirations. Taking this step will set an example for openness, creating a welcoming, safe environment where others feel similarly encouraged and supported.

3) Leveraging your team’s motivations and drainers.

I quickly realized that understanding each team member was the key to avoiding awkward initial meetings. It began with a simple question about motivation; that laid the groundwork for deeper, more meaningful conversations. These insights helped me assign tasks that complemented each member’s strengths and talents, leading to a more productive and collaborative project. Everyone was now working on tasks that genuinely excited them and fueled their energy, giving our team a fresh sense of momentum.

Prioritizing these three strategies played a pivotal role in improving our collaboration. They resolved initial awkwardness, improved our communication, increased trust, enhanced productivity, and created a more motivated, collaborative, and engaged team.

Take the Test DRiV™ – You can unlock your team’s potential by identifying what truly drives and energizes each member. Taking the Test DRiV personality assessment together will pave the way for deeper, more meaningful conversations. Get started today!

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