It is widely accepted that an organization’s greatest assets are its employees. But just as important as the skills and talents of each team member is the success in which the individuals work and collaborate with one another. Common vision, strong partnering skills, and collaborative goal setting are key elements of any successful team.
Thriving organizations realize that team goals are best met when they are designed in collaboration, rather than handed down from the top. Ownership and accountability of organizational objectives are exponentially increased when the individuals carrying the action plans to meet those goals have an active role in identifying priorities and implementing a strategy to achieve the greatest outcome.
It may sound obvious, but the first step in collaborative goal attainment is collaborative goal setting. Here are a few ideas to strengthen collaborative atmospheres and utilize collaboration as a means to set and accomplish goals:
Define the Objective: State the purpose of the collaborative and/or project clearly. This is the element many refer to as an organization’s “North Star”. Team pressures, project details, and daily minutia can often take command of projected trajectories. Don’t lose control of your ship. As long as there is an agreed-upon “north star” or big-picture overriding purpose, everyone has a point of reference to go back to when the going gets rough. When speculating on fine points, ask yourself if both the objective and solution align with your “north star”. If not, find out why, and reassess.
Celebrate Individualism. Despite bumper-sticker wisdom, teams aren’t measured by the strength of their weakest link, but on the merits of the collaboration of talented individuals. Recognize the unique gifts inherent in each team member, and try to maximize the rewards of those abilities. The greatest collaborations comprise myriad voices, opinions, perspectives and talents. Strive for diversity and seek opposing views, even if those views are deliberately generated for the sake of a “devil’s advocate”.
Rally Around the Collective. Now that a team of unique individuals has been assembled – maximize their strength by bringing them together. Successful team atmospheres don’t happen by accident; it is the responsibility of managers and executives to foster an environment where collaboration is championed. Support, encourage and implement opportunities for your team to be creative with one another.
Weigh Options as a Team. Most times, the focus of a team is to physically act: whether the action is in the completion of a project task, brainstorming, or action planning. Sometimes, however, group reflection can be a team’s greatest tool. Looking back at past successes and challenges, laterally at the current state and standing options, and forward into a future impacted by today’s decisions are perhaps more outwardly passive activities that can excel in a group setting. As a collective, evaluate your current choices with thoughtful consideration. When necessary, develop alternatives.
Decide Collectively: When utilizing the voices and passions of several (or two) individuals, it is critical to have a decision-making process in place prior to embarking on the process. Processes and group agreements allow an atmosphere which is open for all ideas, objectives, and concerns to be voiced in a safe environment, free of assumptions and unease. Always keep your “north star” in mind, and consider the following decision-making process as a starting point: