Most of us acknowledge that, in order for a group or team to function successfully, each individual member must bring his or her best efforts to the table. But even with that acknowledgement, we may occasionally need a reminder about the specific attitudes, actions, and behaviors that define and facilitate effective collaboration.
In The Leadership Experience, Sixth Edition, Richard L. Daft describes five key behaviors that group members must adopt in order for their team to reach peak performance. These principles can be applied to collaboration in the workplace; they also have relevance to students who are working together on group projects. We have summarized these points below:
1. Set goals and monitor performance. You must define realistic, yet challenging goals and objectives that align with the group’s desired outcomes. Decide how you will measure and evaluate your progress.
2. Make effective plans to achieve those goals and objectives. Once you know what you want to accomplish, decide how you will accomplish it. Identify the specific steps it will take to reach your goals, and delineate the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Employ quality time management and project management skills that facilitate successful achievement of the agreed-upon objectives.
3. Solve problems collaboratively. Work together to make decisions that resolve the challenges and unexpected “hiccups” that occur along the path towards completing your assignment or project.
4. Communicate clearly and effectively. Each team member should feel comfortable enough to share ideas and concerns and offer feedback to one another. It’s also important for individuals to keep the whole team apprised of their progress on a regular basis.
5. Manage conflict wisely. At some point in its existence, every team will likely encounter some form of disagreement (whether large or small). Addressing issues quickly—before they blossom into more serious problems—will go a long way towards keeping the group focused on its objectives, rather than on the conflict itself. (Daft, 304-305)
Reference: Daft, Richard L. 2015. The Leadership Experience, 6th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
What do you believe are the essential steps a group or team must take in order to function successfully? Do you have particular advice that you share with your students? Tell us in the comments!