This simple exercise will help you see how collaboration can improve team performance. Each member of your team should write down as many objects round (such as a ball, dish, life-saving rings or etc.) as they can as many round things (such as a ball, container, life-saving rings, etc.) that they can recall in two minutes. Next, have your teammates form groups of four to five and then write down as many rectangle items (boxes, books, doors, etc.) as you can. As many rectangular items (TV, book, door, etc.) as the group can name within the given time period. This game has been used in hundreds of training exercises. Only once did an individual list more than the group. The group will consistently outperform the individual if you average their individual and group scores.
This is an easy and effective way to get your team to appreciate the benefits of sharing each other’s work. When teammates realize the benefits of teamwork, it is up to the leader to create an environment that encourages this behavior. These are three ways to achieve this goal.
1. Encourage participation.
Every team leader has the responsibility of asking questions. As prompts, questions can be used. You can use a question to spark thought and clarify answers. Great team leaders encourage multiple ways of problem-solving. This enriches the conversation and fosters innovative solutions. Leaders should encourage 100% participation from their team members. To encourage participation, a leader must instill confidence within the group. Recognize participation by using praises and congratulations.
2. Don’t judge too quickly.
A wise leader will remember to listen and not think. Verbally rejecting an idea early is a quick way to end collaboration and idea-sharing. Remember that the goal is for teammates to learn from each other’s work. Once everyone is comfortable sharing a “silly” or unique idea, teammates can intellectually grab the valuable parts and make improvements. You might be completely off-target, but the seed that leads you to THE solution may be just what you are looking for.
3. Reward collaboration.
Reward collaboration. Each member of a highly functioning team contributes to the overall success. This concept is illustrated by the following sports analogy. Fans cheer a player’s name when he scores a touchdown in football. The replay shows that the center took a perfect snap. The quarterback tried to distract the linebackers by suggesting that he would pass before he handed the ball. The hole was opened by the linemen who completed their blocks. The runner cut through the hole in the line. The safety and cornerbacks were stopped by the wide receivers downfield, which kept the route to the goal open. Although the runner did cross the dream, he was not the only one who got the award. The team won the game. A team leader who is effective recognizes the contributions of every member of his team.
My experience has shown me that being a facilitator was my most significant contribution as a leader of a team. Team performance dropped when I became the boss. We scored more when I let my team do the work. These steps will help your team reach its maximum potential.