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Collaboration 101: Building Teams

What makes successful collaboration? Tools? Culture? Having a strong team? I realize this is a bit of a loaded question, but it’s an issue a lot of organizations are coping with. Sure having the right tools in place certainly helps, so does having an open, collaborative culture. But at the heart of real collaboration, having a strong team is imperative. With a strong team, you can overcome almost anything. Don’t believe me? Take a look almost anywhere – sports, academia, business – building a solid team makes the difference between success and failure. But building a strong can sure be difficult.

Creating Your Dream Team

So, how do you build strong teams? Well Douglas Conant offers some excellent words of wisdom in his recent Harvard Business Review article, Building Effective Teams Isn’t Rocket Science, But It’s Just as Hard.

Hire Highly Effective Team Members

The best teams are built around strong players; however striking the right balance between those superstars isn’t as easy as you might think. When building out your team, Conant recommends keeping an eye out for what he calls the “4 C’s: competence, character, courage and collaboration.” Conant believes that “The best contributors that I have recruited over the years know what they are doing (have competence), do what they say they are going to do (display character), meet challenges head-on (have the courage of their convictions) and delight in working with others for the good of the enterprise (are spirited collaborators).”

Focus on Trust

After recruiting your team, the next step according to Conant, is focusing on creating trust. This is not an easy task and should not be taken lightly. If you successfully establish trust between your fellow team members, “it is the one thing that changes everything.” However, if you are unsuccessful here, than anything you do can feel like a huge undertaking. Conant believes that trust, based on competence and character surpasses all other attributes.

Encourage Candor

Fostering an open, honest environment, and developing trust go hand-in-hand. If you can successfully create trust, then fostering candor and collaboration should come naturally. However, it’s still good to actively foster this. Conant believes that fostering an open workplace environment is important. Establishing an environment where “the team acknowledges mistakes and celebrates progress in a timely way” is very important for success.

Set Clear Expectations

I couldn’t agree any more with Conant’s belief that “the greater the clarity of the mission, the greater the odds of success.” Team members need to understand what’s expected of them. The clearer the understanding of their roles and expectations, the greater the chances are of success.

While your next project may not be very complex, if you leverage Conant’s suggestions you will certainly see your team soar to new heights.

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