8 WAYS TO BUILD COLLABORATIVE TEAMS EIGHT FACTORS THAT LEAD TO SUCCESS By Lynda Gratton & Tamara J. Erickson HBR November 2007
8 WAYS TO BUILD COLLABORATIVE TEAMS
Investing in signature relationship practices
Modeling collaborative behavior
Creating a “gift culture”
Focused HR Practices
Ensuring the requisite skills
Supporting a strong sense of community
Right Team Leaders
Assigning a team leaders that are both task- and relationship-oriented
Team formation and Structure
Building on heritage relationships
Understanding role clarity and task ambiguity
Executive Support Investing in signature relationship practices
practices that were memorable, difficult for others to replicate and particularly well suited to their own business environment
Royal bank of Scotland (CEO Fred Goodwin)
£350 million new headquarters designed to improve communication, increase exchange of ideas and create sense of community among employees – built around indoor atrium, allows 3,000 people to rub shoulders daily – employees remain on campus and be out of their offices and mingling with fellow employee
To ensure that non-headquarters staff fell like part of the action, Goodwin also commissioned an adjoining business school , where employees from other locations meet and learn, and are encourage to spend time on the headquarters campus
BP (British Petroleum)
aims to social networks by moving employees across functions, businesses, and countries as part of career development – so when BP integrates an acquisition, leadership development committee deliberately rotates acquired employees across s the corporation
Changing roles frequently, not uncommon for senior leader at BP to have worked in four businesses and three geographies across a decade
perceived behavior of senior executives play a significant role in determining how cooperative teams are prepared to be
Standard Chartered Bank
Members of general management committee will frequently serve as substitutes for one another; they know and understand the entire business and can fill in for one another on almost any task
While this is crucial for promoting collaboration, challenge is to make the executives’’ behavior visible; the senior team travels extensively even for brief meetings
Internal communication is frequent and open and most telling, every site around the world is filled with photos of groups of executives (country and functional leaders) working together
Collaboration trickles down through the organization, employee learn that the best way to get things done through informal networks; team members first name acquaintance with people across the company brings a sense of dynamism to their interactions
Executive Support Modeling collaborative behavior
mentoring and coaching need to be embedded in as their own
routine behavior throughout the company. Coaching daily helps
establish a cooperative “gift culture” in place of a more
transactional “tit-for-tat” culture. Gift of time – in the form of
hours spent on coaching and building networks is critical to a collaboration
Within a few days of hiring, employees manager will sit down and list all people in organization, no matter location, it would be useful for employee to meet. Newcomer is then, as a standard, to set up meetings with people on the list, even when it means travelling to other locations.
Executive Support Creating a “Gift” Culture
Focused HR Practices Ensuring the requisite skills
“ container of collaboration” factors that support the underlying culture and habits of company or team – some teams had culture of collaboration; but, were not skilled in practice of collaboration itself; they encouraged and wanted to cooperate, but didn’t know how to collaborate as a team. Crucial skills were: appreciating others, being able to engage in purposeful conversations, productively and creatively resolving conflicts and program management
Strongest capability in productive collaboration; 140,000 employees in nearly 150 countries.
PwC’s training includes modules that address teamwork, emotional intelligence, networking, holding difficult conversations, coaching, corporate social responsibility, and communication firms’ strategy and shared values.
Flagship Client-facing staff training in selling and relationship management; is not about sales techniques is course on building collaborative customer partnerships emphasizing trust-based personal relationships
Focused HR Practices Supporting a strong sense of community
While communal spirit can develop spontaneously, HR plays critical in cultivating by sponsoring group events and activities
Informal groups were responsible with implementation of new technology throughout the bank
Made new technology for long distance collaboration readily available
Also when travelling to a new location to arrange meetings with as many people as possible
When working groups disband , employees maintain a strong, connective network
Despite size and geographic reach, remains a family business
Chairman regularly makes that point to employees; tells stories of counting “sticky” nickels as a child (proceeds from root beer stand founded by his mother and father). This reinforces friendly, family-like culture.
Staff appreciation is element in every communication.
Range of pop-up events or spontaneous events create a sense of fun and community
Chairman also started his own blog (where he discusses everything from Marriot’s green efforts to his favorite family vacation spots) reinforcing that the company is a community.
Right Team Leaders Assigning a team leaders that are both task- and relationship-oriented Team leads made a significant difference. They achieve this result by their flexibility in the two styles.
There are two schools of thought as to which style of leadership is most
productive, task- or relationship-oriented leadership. Relationship-oriented leadership
creates an environment of trust where people are more inclined to share knowledge.
Task-oriented leadership is ability to make objectives clear, create a shared awareness of
the scope of the tasks and provide monitoring and feedback. In 55 teams surveyed, the
truth lay somewhere between. Most productive teams were led by people who were both
task- and relationship-oriented. Early stages, tasks-oriented was necessary; however at
certain point of development they switched to relationship-oriented style.
• Core goal of team leaders works on creating skills in both styles.
• Relationship – describe their peer network and cite examples of how that network help them get things done. Must also provide examples of how relationship building has helped them get things done.
• Task – project management certifications, refresher courses to maintain their skills over time.
Team formation and Structure Building on heritage relationships
Forming teams that capitalize on pre-existing or “heritage” relationships increases chance of success. Members who were strangers at formation find it more difficult to collaborate. Newly formed teams are forced to invest significantly in building trusting relationships. Data from study: when 20% to 40% of team members were already well-connected to each other had strong collaboration fro m the start.
Ensures that large number of people on any team know one another
Moves entire small teams intact instead of reshuffling individual people into new positions (i.e. address new customer need, the group formed would be composed of small pods of colleagues from each area).
Success because entire company has one common platform for logistics, HR, finance and other transactions, teams can switch in and out of business and geographies without learning new systems.
Important watch-out: If not, skillfully managed, heritage relationships can actually disrupt collaboration; strong sub-groups could form causing fault lines.
Team formation and Structure Understanding role clarity and task ambiguity
Which is more important for collaboration: clearly defined approach or clearly defined roles to achieve a task? Commonly assumption is that spelling out approach is essential but leaving roles undefined will encourage sharing and contributing of ideas. This study showed that the reverse is true. Clearly defined roles improves collaboration because the individual feels they can work independently and waste less energy negotiating their roles and focus on the task. Leaving the path to the goal ambiguous, assist individuals seeking to collaborate to find the path to completion. If team perceives that path is not yet known of predefined, they will invest time and energy in collaboration.
133 people on Proms (musical celebration); 66 on World Cup; 72 on the news
One could presume confusion among all the different team members.
Each specialist on the teams had a clearly defined role.
Clarification at such precision that friction kept to minimum.
Successful teams: far-flung locations; no common language (primary languages were Russian, Chinese, Thai and English).
Worked 12 straights hours their desks developing code, speaking to no one.
High cooperation values; perhaps because they were given autonomy over one discrete piece of the project.
Each member of the team worked independently, but each person’s work had to be shaped with eye towards overall team goal.