Team projects will follow you from the college classroom to the workplace—few people have jobs or careers that allow them to work in complete isolation. In fact, looking carefully at collaboration trends in the workplace over the past twenty years, researchers found that collaboration between management and employees had increased by 50% or more (Cross, Rebele & Grant, 2016). Employees who can work effectively on a team are valuable to employers, as are leaders who can facilitate communication within a team of people. Collaboration done well allows us to get more done than we could possibly accomplish on our own.
Collaborating with other people can be challenging. In a team setting, you can’t control every aspect of the project as you need to rely on others to complete the work. Additionally, a team’s ability to work effectively is impacted by interpersonal communication and communication styles. Researchers at Google found that factors like the ability to take equal turns speaking and being perceptive of the moods and feelings of their teammates created a sense of “psychological safety,” which was a key feature among successful teams in the organization (Duhigg, 2016).
Every team of people is unique—there is no one perfect method for successful collaboration because it requires attention to these types of interpersonal dynamics in every new collaborative situation.
Beyond interpersonal dynamics, however, a successful project requires setting clear goals and expectations for each team member. As a result, unsurprisingly, good communication is the foundation of a successful collaboration. Practice the skills and strategies and familiarize yourself with the resources outlined in the following sections to make you and your teams better equipped to plan, manage, and complete large, complex projects.
Cross, R., Rebele, R., & Grant, A. (2016). Collaborative Overload. Harvard Business Review, 94(1), 74-79.
Duhigg, C. (2016, February 25). What Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html
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