The idea that teams with diverse thinking can innovate, improve customer experiences, sell better deals or solve business problems faster and more creatively than working in isolation makes logical sense, but when faced with execution, why does it often fail?

In the last few months, many industries disrupted due to COVID-19. They are now rightly looking up to their leadership teams to help find new business opportunities, solve unprecedented problems, and do it all faster than ever before. To support this, many organisations are shifting their focus from hierarchical structures to more agile teams, and large corporations are asking divisions to start collaborating across disciplines and business lines. Teams leading teams is the most effective way to tackle the complex issues companies are facing today. 

Whilst this all sounds logical, we’ve failed to address the human behaviour needed to ensure that collaboration occurs effectively. All too often, leaders verbally agree that collaboration is a great idea in a team meeting or the board room, but once they get back to their workplace, the default behaviour is to work in silos.

Incentives, recognition, and rewards can often be influencing factors, but they are rarely aligned to the company’s desire to be more collaborative. Aside from that, it’s often our deep domain expertise and ego that are really getting in the way of effective collaboration.

How to Build Collaboration Within Teams

Here are some of the best practices for building collaboration within teams:

1. Build Trust – For teams to be more collaborative, we need them to increase their levels of trust in one another. To do this, we need to be more vulnerable and open to exposing where we might need help. This fear of losing face can stifle agile teams and prevent collaboration from even starting.

2. Know their Strengths – We need to slow down, even for a few hours, to get to know our colleagues’ strengths and capabilities. It is important to really understand how everyone can contribute at their highest, and how you fit into the power of this team.

3. Let go – The higher you’re up the corporate ladder, the more you’ve honed your sense of control, and the harder it becomes to let go. Now is the time to leave your ego at the door and work in partnership with others.

4. Hold Self and Others Accountable – Once we have started the collaboration process, we need to know how and when to leverage peer accountability. Setting a clear purpose and objective is the ideal starting point, and then whilst tracking goals, having the confidence to speak up and respectfully challenge if actions are being missed.

Perhaps a secret accelerator to unlocking improved collaboration is leaders being exposed to safe situations where they have to collaborate to succeed and build self-awareness and team recognition about what gets in the way. These simulations can create the stimulus for change and the epiphany moments essential if we want leaders to genuinely do things differently.

It needs more than just a rally cry in your next Leadership Offsite, where enthusiasm for collaboration is high. Post-it note ideas are in abundance, but what it really needs is a targeted development plan and some specific skill-building. Imagine what is possible if your teams and leaders were truly agile in their thinking and chose to reach out across departments, disciplines and even divisions to collaborate. What could be solved? What could be improved? What could be saved? And how quickly.

Together we are always better, stronger and faster.

Get in touch with us to find out how you can enable your leaders to be more collaborative that would help you improve the overall team productivity and efficiency. Check out our multiplayer Virtual Reality Solutions for leadership development that you and your teams can access from the home, office, or any remote location. We have partnered with Jenson8, creators of the VR experience, exclusively in the Middle East, to bring highly immersive Virtual Reality solutions to you.