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Collaboration and creativity – Improving your team’s performance

As an executive, manager or team leader, it is paramount that your team works together in the most collaborative way.

The way a team interacts is the key to ensuring intelligent individuals work together as a smart, productive and efficient team – buzzing with creativity and innovation.

But, how can you make this happens?

Getting to know your team and each other

How do you talk to your team members? Before a meeting, do you ask each of them how they are?

The default mode for the brain is to interpret everything in terms of social interaction and social relationships. With this in mind, now imagine how everything you do as a leader may be interpreted.

You need to build good social relationships with your team members (and they with each other), as well as professional respect. It is important to share personal stories. In return, you must also generously listen. Truly get to know what each others’ passion are. What fires people up?

Finding out something new about another person is often a very positive experience and continuation of this will help a relationship to grow. When a team feel comfortable with each other, the consequence is more effective collaboration.

Building good relationships in meetings

It is vital that all team members feel valued by you and each other. Individuals needs to feel that what they have to say is valued, in debates and conversations.

When this happens, it ignites the brain’s reward system in the ventral striatum – releasing dopamine. In turn, it ensures the brain works at its optimum.  Collectively, your team will then produce its best work. They’ll be more innovative and creative.

Too often, meetings are negative experiences, with arguments and feelings of exclusion. When this happens, the brain ignites the ‘threat system’ and this releases adrenaline and cortisol. Essentially, people feel stressed and this decreases collaboration and motivation. It also depletes any sense of ‘psychological safety’ (read more here).

To protect themselves from being attacked, team members will start to ‘shut down’ and will no longer participate. If aggressive meetings are left unchecked, then staff will put on a ‘work place mask’, not sharing their true thoughts and feelings, saying only what they think managers want to hear.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Meetings are a perfect opportunity to encourage positive behaviours in your team. For example, try by starting meetings with inviting everyone to share one piece of good news.

This really sets the agenda and atmosphere of a meeting. After sharing their news, everyone feels good, valued and included. This instantly increases positivity in the approach to the rest of the meeting.

Another method is to divide tasks based on people strengths and interests. Give tasks to those with known expertise and tell them you think this. Suggest volunteers based on what you know will motivate them.

It is vital that all team members feel valued by you and each other.

Enhancing the workplace atmosphere for a more collaborative team

Beyond meetings, it is important that you use certain activities to increase positivity in the workplace.

You can apply the following techniques:

  • Mixing – Ensure that your people get to mix. For example, a job rotation scheme allows the mixing of different individuals and increases understanding of how different departments or sections work.
  • Praising – When discussing a collaboration, highlight why someone’s specific strength is valuable and without them would not be so rich.
  • Socialising – Spend time outside of the office (when restrictions allow!). It is good for the team, especially when led by the management or senior executive team. Consider activities or events related to individuals’ interests. If external social events are not possible, within the office (or even via Zoom!) ensure that you encourage opportunities to talk about non-work related topics, during team catch ups and shared lunch breaks.

All of these practices will increase harmony in a team and promote a sense of well-being too.

Never forget…humans relish social relationships

If 2020 has taught us anything…it is about the importance of socialising and maintaining social relationships.

All too often leaders and managers think that they have a good relationship with their team members, when, in fact, the social conversations are superficial. They strive for respect over relations.

You must find ways to actively promote genuine conversation within your team. You must encourage your teams to socialise. Importantly, by being open and honest yourself – you will see this reflected in your teams too.

If you think your talented individuals could be better united to make great things happen, take a look at our Breakthrough Leadership programme now.

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