How To Accelerate Team Collaboration

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Have you ever had a negative work experience or reduced productivity because of misunderstandings or conflicts between people’s working styles or personalities? Often after a year or more of stepping on toes and awkward conversations after avoiding them, a couple of people have a chat and get it sorted.

This is totally normal. It would be weird if this didn’t happen. What’s weird is pretending and expecting that it isn’t going to happen.

This mission of this monthly newsletter is to capture and distribute what we at The People Engagement Experts have picked up that passes as wisdom in a form that is directly practical and useful. What trainers like me might call 'takeaways'. Things like infographics, checklists, and templates. Books, presentations and training courses are great (as an author, speaker & trainer, I would say that) but most days they're a bit much and people have work to do. This newsletter will feature one short-form tool each month. This month, it’s the 1-page personal user manual – a deliberate and proactive activity to accelerate a team’s ability to learn how to best work and get along with each other.

Many workplace leaders are incredibly unrealistic and rely on wishful thinking that everyone will act like adults and either not have these clashes or deal with them professionally and amicably themselves. In fairness, many do. Lot’s don’t. What’s been your experience?

One option, as part of inducting team members into the workplace, is to simply, proactively and deliberately have these conversations in a structured way right at the start. And, to capture that in a one-page personal user manual for each team member. Six basic questions the answers to which would be really useful to know about each member of a team by every other member of the team.

Maybe it’d be a good idea to do this with your family too? That said, we may well spend as much if not more time with our work ‘family’ than our actual family.

Some teams when starting this approach, run a session where all existing team members complete a manual then rotate around the groups having 1:1 ‘speed date’ type conversations prompted by their answers. Even people who have worked together seemingly forever find out stuff they didn’t know or had their assumptions corrected. Of course too, there are some people whose own answers about themselves did not square up with the ‘evidence’ of others’ experience of them, and that too is useful feedback.

After this initial session, subsequent newbies can go through their process, talk it through with their team leader, and others are then copied the newbie’s manual.

It’s not critical to fill in the form. The power lies in the focused conversation.

Have a crack. Let me know how you get on, and any thoughts on the concept or practice.


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