When thinking of the term “collaboration,” people may automatically visualize a group of individuals sitting relatively close to one another in an office-like setting. The misconception is true collaboration can only be successful with direct, personal engagement; this could not be further from reality. The global COVID-19 pandemic moved collaboration almost entirely virtual. Many teams are proving it can happen directly or indirectly, even when geographically separated by state, country, or time zone. However, just because teams have the opportunity and technology to collaborate outside of the physical workspace, does not mean they will do so successfully. So, what creates successful team collaboration? It starts with great leadership.
Great leaders seek to build and develop diverse, dynamic teams that are capable of excelling during normalcy and thriving in times of crisis. They are responsible for equipping their teams with foundational tools and training necessary to complete the mission in any given environment. If your team is working remotely, but not used to it, they might not be working as collaboratively as they do when sitting next to each other in the office where they could easily talk to one another. A decrease in productivity could indicate the need for additional tech training or improving communication skills and techniques between teammates.
Understanding your team will help you be able to strategize quickly to get them collaborating well again, virtually. First, you need to know the DISC styles of your team and how to communicate with them. Understanding the team’s behavior and communication preferences will help you identify potential communication barriers based on behavioral styles, and offer strategies to strengthen and equip team members to improve on an individual basis.
Second, understanding your team member’s T.E.A.M.S. thinking styles. You don’t want to put somebody who has a super-low “Theorist” but high “Executor” thinking style in charge of coming up with five new ways you can bring sales in. Someone who has a high “Theorist” thinking style would be able to think of new ideas quickly, and then the “Executor” and “Analyzer” styles would be able to strategize and determine which ideas would work and how they would implement that process. Knowing how people think in teams is so valuable.
And then, of course, team members have different Behavioral Attitudes that define different pressure and motivation points for people. During times when teams are physically disconnected, leaders may struggle to see or hear key indicators that identify increased levels of stress in those who may be struggling to adjust to significant changes in work and life. For example, people I know who are a high “S” DISC style with a high “Social Humanitarian” behavioral attitude are having the toughest time coping because of the sudden changes and how it’s affecting their family/friends.
Expertise in behavioral analysis helps leaders to effectively engage and respond to the individual needs of each team member, and collectively support and maintain the needs of the whole team.
Preparing your team for successful collaboration requires a leader who knows and understands personal motivations and strengths, and can employ effective communication strategies during times of change and uncertainty, both in the physical workplace, as well as virtually.