Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

Collaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity. As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened. Yet we are also experiencing heightened polarization with far too much attention on what can divide us. We ask that you join us in being a part of what helps our world work for the best interest of all. Bring collaboration to your workplace, community and family! 10 steps for acting with collaborative intelligence follow.

We see collaboration on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as improved efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values. With all of the discussion of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

Collaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams, communities, and any groups can reach as they build their skills. Collaborative intelligence is a result teams and groups profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®) http://theemotionallyintelligentteam.com/consulting.asp#ci. When teams and groups build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively. Developing these seven competencies helps members learn how to act collaboratively and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process. Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders. Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and

accomplish a great deal. More formal collaborative processes can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and usually benefit from engaging a facilitator. Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch. Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they will build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations. These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

  1. Be aware. Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved. Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.
  2. Apply Intention and Attention. Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how. Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track. Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together. Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.
  3. Commit to the process. Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process. One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success. You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.
  4. Attend to others. Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection. It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another. You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process. Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.
  5. Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!
  6. Express your opinions and share your knowledge. If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved. Remember your actions speak louder than your words.
  7. List commonalities and differences. It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.
  8. Apply divergent thinking. Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours. At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.
  9. Be appreciative. Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work. Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.
  10. Make decision(s). At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer. Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing. Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works. Is anything askew? Did you take on too much at once? Does anything else need adjusting? If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative behavior and decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success. What’s not to like about that scenario!

Team Leaders Motivate Your Teams!

Leading emotionally intelligent teams is a tough job. Developing your skill is worth it as teams strong in EI are productive, creative and loyal to their organization. Building team motivation is a key strategy for success so team leaders maximize their own success by implementing the 7 motivation actions.

Before you implement any of these steps, think about someone who did a great job leading a team you were on. How did he/she motivate you? How did he/she engage and follow through? Now with a good example in mind ask:

  1. What are the characteristics of the team members on the team I’m leading? Know your team members individually.

Get to know your team members individually and help them know each other through a personality assessment such as Change Style Indicator or the Influence Style Indicator. You’ll be amazed at how much good data supports understanding team members’ preferences. With this information, you can strategically target your requests to gain the best buy in.

  1. What’s my team good at? What are their challenges?

Understand your team strengths and weaknesses with the TESI®. The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®, is a team 360 reporting on how team members access their functioning in seven core areas of team engagement. These measurable results help teams focus on how to tap into their skills and improve areas of weakness. You and your team can measure success through the pre-post assessment.

  1. What rings their bells – what dampens their spirits?

Pay attention to the feedback you receive on a regular basis and repeat what works. Utilize your data on individual and team strengths in order to further positive engagement.

  1. How will the team break out of old patterns to awaken creativity and boost spirits?

Creativity is an energizer. Even though some team members may moan about change, when you lead them in purposeful change and have a defined approach and outcomes it will help build new energy and clear out old ways of doing things that aren’t necessary anymore.

  1. What’s your team attitude?

Discuss the power of attitude with your team. Ask team members to explore current attitudes and then set intentions for the attitude they will express in the future. Be specific about who does what so you can notice and affirm positive actions as engagement improves.

  1. What inspires your team members and the team as a whole?

What about giving some time to a worthwhile community project? You and the team could spend an hour at a soup kitchen or a day helping build a house. There are many ways to contribute. Challenge the team to consider options and find a suitable project. After contributing your time get together and debrief. Talk about how it felt, what you learned about your community and what it means to volunteer as a team.

  1. Determine how well your team that functions with emotional and social well-being

The Collaborative Growth team model measures the seven specific skills seen in the outer ring. Your team can take the TESI, consider their skills and opportunities, and engage in intentional growth. The model shows that as teams are deliberately enhancing their skills they develop the benefits shown in the middle circle, such as trust, and then progress to being a team that enjoys emotional and social well-being. This is a highly productive and engaged state which leads to sustainable good results. However, be sure to pay attention to maintaining those skills. High performance requires constant attention.

Influencing for Change in a Divided World

Leaders are role models; people will follow your example.
Is that a good thing?

Divisiveness in the external world is impacting organizational culture. When family members question sharing holidays because they don’t want to hear each other’s differing views, it is certain similar impacts are happening in the workplace. This creates a clarion call for leaders to proactively build an environment that supports connection over separation. We are discussing this vital topic in our webinar.

The source of this sharp discord is often based in value differences and that is what makes many so intransigent. For example, if someone believes it’s only right if people are treated X and someone else says no X – 3 is plenty for some people, emotional responses will be triggered. It’s likely both perspectives can be well argued, but they are hard to hear for the person disagreeing. This can lead to cliques and factions just when you need people to spark creativity in one another because they can think differently. What can a leader do?

Leaders need to start with evaluating their workforce and organizational culture. However, before they can evaluate others, leaders must first be personally accountable. Ask yourself how attached you are to your point of view and your opinions – are you open to hearing very different perspectives? When a position is important to you, can you listen and have a coherent discussion with a colleague or staff person who disagrees? Or do you just walk away? Leaders are role models; people will follow your example. Is that a good thing?

Now discern how your workforce is doing by reaching out and actively listening. You might create a task force to lead the effort. Ask questions and take notes in order to respond.

How are you and your team mates getting along?”

Are you having full discussions or do you stop in order to avoid conflict?”

Are there people here you’re avoiding that you used to work well with?”

On a scale of 1-10 where is our trust level riding these days?”

Give them a sense of how you see issues being discussed, and tell them how you feel. “I feel ___ because _____.” Then actively listen and role model how to respond to one another. “It sounds like maybe you feel ___ because ______.”

Talk about what you are learning while using all your smarts – IQ and EQ. if there’s an elephant in the room, expose the discord in a manner that keeps the conversation safe for exploration. That means that above all else everyone is treated with respect. Leaders are responsible for insisting on a safe environment that maintains the value that while disagreements happen, there can also be very solid areas of agreement. You want your staff to be able to move on from the difficult conversation and continue their work together with a willingness to listen and share.

Once understanding is gained on workforce connectivity, leaders need to guide the desired change that can expand collaboration over separation. In doing so, success requires understanding the personalities of leaders and staff related to making changes. Data helps guide strategically targeted interventions. The Change Style Indicator® (CSI) identifies three styles of change. Through this assessment people find they are Conservers (prefer to accept the structure and make incremental change), Pragmatists (will explore the structure and support change that is functional), or Originators (comfortable with challenging the structure and preferring expansive change). These are big differences, and it is quite possible all preferences are represented in your workforce. To implement the change successfully people preferring each of the change approaches need to be brought on board. Without doubt, it’s tempting to say “Just do it!” The problem is that quick dictate can’t change internal states that are leading to the divisiveness. A defined viable path needs to be created. The foundation of change is strengthened with mutually agreed values, such as everyone deserves to be respected. Then use flexibility to gain buy-in and changed behavior from the whole staff through process that influence change and show how with emotional intelligence skills.

Throughout this process leaders are influencing people to change their behavior. No one can make someone else hold different values or communicate differently. What leaders can do is invite changes, demonstrate the inclusive language, hold staff accountable and use many other strategies to influence success. Once again, data helps. The Influence Style Indicator™ guides leaders and staff to understand the approaches they now use and to recognize how to expand their repertoire of influence strategies. Leaders charged with building rapport and engagement need to select influencing approaches that walk their talk. Two orientations are possible – advocating or uniting. Then having chosen the overall approach the specific styles a leader might employ are rationalizing, asserting, negotiating, inspiring and bridging. It is easy to argue that for a change such as building collaboration through improved communications and patience that inspiring and bridging are the best strategies. However, use caution in narrowing your style. Check out the preferences in the workforce. For example, sometimes assertiveness is required to set boundaries for what is acceptable.

Emotional intelligence skills contain the wherewithal to actually make the changes once leaders have selected their change and influence strategies. Making cultural shifts of this importance can well call on all 16 skills of the EQi. The most impactful are:

  • Emotional self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Assertiveness
  • Optimism – and Happiness

These are skills that can be learned, sharpened and tailored to specific circumstances. Many of our books and other articles show you how.

Demonstration of super respect, with reciprocity, makes the fundamental difference. This introduces new awareness and connectivity. Successful leaders will use their skills to understand the diversity of their workforce and how to approach change and influence their staff and co-workers. Then they will apply emotional intelligence skills to accomplish the desired behavioral change.

Acting with Collaborative Intelligence: Your 10 Step Guide

team_hugCollaboration is a result of people working together to reach a mutual answer to a challenge or opportunity. As our world becomes more integrated and boundaries become more blurred the need and desire to collaborate is heightened. We see this on the internet, such as with Wikipedia, in organizations of all sizes and shapes, such as the better efforts at the United Nations and in performance goals for individuals and leaders, such as the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s) that leaders in the federal senior executive service are to meet.

Organizations frequently list collaboration as part of their mission or vision statement or as one of their values. With all of these forms of embracing collaboration, we know it’s something good, the key question is how do we collaborate and when is it useful? We’ll answer this question for individuals by exploring 10 steps for individuals to follow in order to act collaboratively and briefly review how teams build collaboration.

CG Team Model-update2016Collaborative Intelligence™ is a key outcome teams can reach as they build their skills. Collaborative intelligence is a result teams profit from when using the seven skills measured by the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey. When teams build their skills in forming a strong team identity, engaging with motivation, building emotional awareness, enhancing communications, supporting one another in work life balance to manage stress, growing their conflict resolution skills so they can benefit when conflict occurs and act with positive mood they will be engaging multiple strengths and acting collaboratively. Developing these seven skills helps team members learn how to be collaborative and to use this outcome wisely.

Collaboration is a communication and problem solving process that is based on a structured engagement style and process. Those who collaborate well pay attention to personality styles, behavioral engagement strategies, and timing of the decision making as well as who is invited into the discussion, often referred to a stakeholders. Individuals and organizations can act in a collaboratively style informally and accomplish a great deal. More formal collaborative process can be deliberately engaged in more challenging situations and may benefit from engaging a facilitator. Because the process can be slow and deliberative it may be the wrong formal process to use in an emergency, when a quick decision is needed or when the stakes are low, such as choosing where to have lunch. Even in these circumstances when individuals act with a demonstration of inclusivity and intentionally listen to others and incorporate their suggestions as appropriate, they can build buy-in and loyalty that expands their base of support. The following 10 steps will help individuals and leaders be successful in their collaborations. These skills can be integrated into one’s natural behaviors so the benefits of collaboration abound with minimal effort.

10 Steps to Act with Collaborative Intelligence

  1. Be aware. Notice what is happening so you can choose how you are involved. Breathe deeply to benefit from adding oxygen to your brain, to your heart and to feel calm and resilient.
  2. Apply Intention and Attention. Form your intention so you know specifically what you want to accomplish and how. Then decide what steps in the process you will pay attention to in order to keep yourself on track. Intend to collaborate, which means intend to work together, to listen and to respond in order to accomplish your goal together. Clarify your own purpose and goals; this is not a process you can accomplish on auto-pilot.
  3. Commit to the process. Collaboration takes time, energy and patience. If you’re hesitant about using the process you’ll hold back, be protective of “your” information or rush through the process. One way or another without commitment you are most likely to minimize the potential for success. You may end up feeling annoyed or antagonizing others or both.
  4. Attend to others. Create a foundation for engagement by creating a personal connection. It’s out of little personal discussions where you find you have things in common that form the basis for trusting one another. You might find you both have daughters who sell Girl Scout cookies or you might both climb 14,000 foot mountains. Continue paying attention to other participants throughout the process. Often there is a valuable message behind the specific words someone is using; paying attention will help you discern the real message.
  5. Mutually establish goals and other criteria. Be sure you are headed in the same direction!
  6. Express your opinions and share your knowledge. If you keep what you know close to your vest you undermine the ability of everyone to make a good decision, you role model that the process isn’t fully trustworthy and neither are the people involved. Remember your actions speak louder than your words.
  7. List commonalities and differences. It’s amazing how often people struggle over principles they already all agree on because they didn’t take time to recognize the agreement. If you clarify where there are differences and where you agree then you can begin gathering information to move towards a mutual solution.
  1. Apply divergent thinking. Be willing to listen to other people’s perspectives even though they may be very different from yours. At attitude of curiosity will be helpful.
  2. Be appreciative. Keep noticing what works and through this positive process explore what seems to be off-center, to just not work. Explore these inconsistencies with curiosity to find points of agreement.
  3. Make decision(s). At this point everyone comes to a convergent answer and agrees to support the one answer. Before you sign off though, apply some hearty reality testing. Future pace by imaging it’s sometime in the future and you’re observing how well the decision works. Is anything askew? Did you take on too much at once? Does anything else need adjusting? If so make the changes now.

The result of collaborative decisions is that you have tapped into everyone’s smarts, built trust and have gained mutual commitment to success. What’s not to like about that scenario!

Helping Teams Where It Hurts

pie-7-3dWhile most of the work for organizations is accomplished by teams, just imagine team productivity if their pain was attended to! You can listen to our recent webinar to gain many specific strategies on how to help teams make this transition. In this article we will highlight several areas where we’ve seen considerable team pain and strategies for resolving the concerns.

Much of team pain revolves around emotions including as part of how they handle relationships, how they manage their impulses, and how team members communicate their emotions and manage their assertiveness. Each of these and so many other challenges are resolved by effective use of emotional and social intelligence, often labeled EI. Emotional Intelligence, or better yet, emotional and social effectiveness, is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. Teams benefit from team members who are skilled in effective EI and where they apply EI at the group level.

7 team competencies measured by the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey (TESI) provide a strategic format for understanding team pain.

Team Identity reflects the level of pride and connection members feel with the team. It indicates how well the team demonstrates belongingness, and how strong a sense of role clarity is established for each member.

Pain/ Challenge points show up as:

  • Disengaged / apathetic behavior
  • Self-focused not team just a group of individuals
  • Failure to know & agree on goals/mission

Solutions or strategic actions include:

  • Facilitated retreat with an expert guiding the team through challenges and to develop new ways
  • Build WIFFM (what’s in it for me and for my team) so everyone knows WHY they are on they are on the team and why everyone else is there as well.
  • Share responsibilities.

Motivation shows the team’s level of internal resources for generating and sustaining the energy necessary to get the job done well and on time. It gives feedback on whether creative thinking is promoted and if members are driven to achieve together.

Pain / Challenge points show up as:

  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of purpose
  • Lack of advocacy

Solution

  • Team collaborates to establish purpose through focused discussion and an emphasis on reaching agreement that then is broadly stated and made visible to the full organization
  • Establish reliable consistent communication
  • Leaders advocate for the team and team members know about the advocacy.

Emotional Awareness measures how sensitive and responsive team members are to each other’s feelings. Does the team value and respect negative as well as positive feelings?

Pain / Challenge points show up as:

  • Missing non-verbal communication, resulting in many feeling misunderstood
  • Feeling wounded, taken for granted or not being seen
  • Ignoring team members

Solution

  • Non-verbal skills building
  • Listen with the ears of your heart through active listening practice and then keeping attention on continuing to build this skill
  • Focus on each member at various times in team meetings, have them give brief presentations, lead a topical discussion or take on other responsibilities.

Communication reflects how accurately the team sends and receives emotional and cognitive information. It indicates how well team members listen, encourage participation, share information and discuss sensitive matters. It indicates the extent to which team members acknowledge contributions and give feedback to one another.

Pain / Challenge is reflected through:

  • Poor listeners
  • Introverts not finding ways to engage
  • Missing the message

Solution

  • Active listening practice
  • Develop new engagement strategies to bring team members together in new pairs or small groups that haven’t worked together as much
  • Match message & receiver by literally stopping during communications sometimes to see if what one is responding to reflects understanding of what the other intended to communicate.

Stress Tolerance measures how well the team understands the types and intensity of the stress factors impacting its members and the team as a whole. It addresses whether team members feel safe with one another, and if they will step in if someone on the team needs help. Stress tolerance reflects the level of work/life balance that the team is able to achieve including its ability to manage workload expectations.

Pain / Challenge

  • Increasingly being asked to do more with less
  • Team members feeling like they are in an emotionally unsafe work environment
  • Resistance

Solution

  • Listen & respond
  • Facilitated intervention
  • Establish positive approach by building speaking and acting strategies that create a positive environment – catch people doing things well and commend them!

Conflict Resolution capabilities show how willing the team is to engage in conflict openly and constructively without needing to get even. It measures the ability to be flexible and to respond to challenging situations without blaming one another. Conflict is natural, and will happen when any team is engaged in fulfilling its purpose. It can be an opportunity for growth or it can destroy a team.

Pain / Challenge

  • Increasingly being asked to do more with less
  • Abuse of power by leaders or de facto leaders
  • Poor impulse control

Solution

  • Build individual EI skills through individual and group coaching and training
  • Set boundaries and enforce accountability
  • Train and hold team members accountable to work together to resolve conflict.

Positive Mood reflects the positive attitude of the team in general as well as when the team is under pressure. Positive mood scores indicate the members’ willingness to provide encouragement, their sense of humor, and how successful the team expects to be. It is a major support for a team’s flexibility and resilience. Positive Mood gives feedback on how well the team deals with pressure and if the team has a can-do attitude.

Pain / Challenge

  • Missing work/life balance
  • No support from leaders above
  • Dysfunctional organizational culture

Solution

  • Act to manage workload
  • Create support among the team members
  • Advocate for organizational change – show the way through your team’s functioning!

The benefits to noticing where your teams have pain and proactively responding are quite likely to exceed your expectations! Give it a go!

The 7 R’s to Team Motivation

7rMotivation is your team’s commitment to mobilize its three primary resources: time, energy and intelligence. We guide you through understanding how to motivate your team in Chapter Four of The Emotionally Intelligent Team. There’s no cookie cutter approach for creating motivation – the right strategies need to connect with your team. There are tools for success! As a team, focus on the values supporting your work, the relationships and the rewards available.

We have emphasized the research by Daniel Pink that three critical elements support individual motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. These are all essential for team as well and you’ll see these principles included in the 7 R’s below. Autonomy includes the chance to operate with independence and to influence your work. Mastery gives the team as a whole as well as individual team members the opportunity to be great at their work. Purpose is unquestionably the driving force for why we do what we do. It’s the source of pride in our work, the core of authentic motivation.

Leaders use their influence and behaviors to motivate teams through the 7 R’s.

  1. Reason – match team members’ WIIFM – help them answer the questions of “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s in it for our team?” Create a reason to engage. Tie the reason for the team’s existence to their purpose and help them develop mastery in their skills.
  1. Respect – take time to get to know the members of the team and demonstrate that you value each and every member. Deliberately share respect between team members. Autonomy is a key component of respect and can unfold in multiple ways by giving the full team some creative time as well as providing the time to individual team members or to sub-groups. Google is one of the best known companies that have gained great results by giving teams autonomy, yet the teams are also expected to collaborate intensely. This requires integrity and real engagement – and leads to powerful productivity. Respect for the team and team members is an integral component of an overarching purpose that everyone is excited about.
  1. Relationships – you can’t bend on this one – compromises are costly. Lead your team to connect with one another and to consistently demonstrate regard. When teams are focused on accomplishing a powerful purpose, there is a natural inclination to build strong relationships to accomplish the common good.
  1. Resilience – let the team know you are committed to engaging with them and that you’ll help gain the resources needed to the best extent possible. Resilience is supported by optimism, which is best experienced as a contagious sense of hopefulness around the team. Resilience is a big concept and casts a powerful web to support success. When all three components of autonomy, mastery and purpose are actively present team resilience expands.
  1. Responsibility – hold people consistently accountable. Let them know their responsibilities are tied to the team accomplishing its mission and providing value. Thus when autonomy is provided, ask the team to then come back and report on what they learned. It’s fine if the creative project wasn’t a huge success, what’s important is that they learned and that the learning is shared in a collaborative spirit.
  1. Rewards & Reinforcement – notice daily positive accomplishments and say something positive right away. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking money is the way to motivate your team. Surprisingly money can demotivate a team. What team members need in addition to respectful pay is to be treated with respect, included in the discussions on why the mission/purpose is valuable, and acknowledged for work done well – promptly. Supporting their ability to develop mastery so they can do their job well is one of the strongest rewards available.
  1. Role Model – like it or not “monkey see, monkey do” holds a lot of truth for human behavior. Researchers have found that our mirror neurons are one of our most powerful sources for learning. Develop your mastery and hold yourself accountable to act the way you would like your team members to behave.

This is the stuff of motivation and results in team productivity accomplished by a team that is experiencing emotional and social well-being.

Why Teamwork Gets So Tricky

people_puzzleAfter more than 20 years of investigation and practical application at Collaborative Growth, the results are in:

Developing leaders is comparatively easy. Developing teams…well that’s a different story – and here’s why. Any individual who is interested in becoming a more effective communicator (and this is the most fundamental and far-reaching skill of leadership) can practice the known skills that will make him or her easier to understand. Leaders can become more persuasive, and if they sincerely want to work on increasing their authenticity, they can genuinely become more trustworthy. It is simply a matter of exercising their own initiative. Their only real obstacles are internal –their occasional lack of willpower, the strength of their bad habits, their inability to focus their attention or muster sufficient energy. And if they don’t develop quite as rapidly as they wanted to their sincerity is not called into question and there is no embarrassment if their plans were private goals.

Developing teams also requires the development of effective communication skills, however this time for a group of individuals all at the same time. This is definitely a much more difficult and public undertaking. At the very least everybody on the team knows that change is afoot, some kind of progress is expected, and this progress is going to disrupt the way power is currently balanced and what – engaged, coordinated, distributed, practiced, implemented, effectuated? All of these words come close but none exactly capture the idea, so perhaps we could say developing team effectiveness disrupts the way in which members communicate their power within the team. This usage is a little unusual but perhaps it captures the situation a bit more crisply.

In these days of “do more with less” there are very few teams that are overstaffed. For everyone who has a spot on the team there usually is some specific expectation that they need to meet in order for the team to reach its goals. If someone isn’t happy with the way things are going (or if they don’t really know how to or want to do the role which they have been assigned) they can innocently make it look like someone else is to blame. We call this disassembling.

Primates learn to deceive at a very early age. Attentive parents can tell when their child’s crying is a sincere expression of pain or a more general bid for attention. Attentive team leaders may not be quite so skillful at detecting what is going on between team members, and even when they do detect some potential disassembling they may not feel all that capable or inclined to tackle the conflict that will result when they attempt to let the responsible parties know that their behavior has been noticed. Most likely accountability has not been defined specifically enough to provide for effective evaluation.

But like the developing leader, each team member can also suffer from a lack of willpower, bad habits, a lack of energy and/or the inability to focus their attention as well as they want. Even though some amount of this is normal and to be expected, for it to be noticed publicly is embarrassing, and embarrassment is just the surface expression of our deep instinct to avoid rejection. Primates do not like to feel excluded! Can you begin to see why developing emotionally effective teamwork is such a challenge compared to developing leaders?

At Collaborative Growth we use a scientifically validated assessment called The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey, or TESI to help teams be able to pinpoint where the real problems are. Then using our team communication training skills, developed over more than 20 years with all kinds of teams from the private and public sectors, we help the teams and their members and their leader get real! Once people understand the general ways in which people are wired to communicate and cooperate and compete this is not a particularly confrontational process. People enjoy discovering the effectiveness of the communication patterns that we teach, in part because these skills are every bit as effective at home as at the office.

Utilizing a basic understanding of this information we can help team members deconstruct the triggers that activate those self-protective reactions which so often turn disingenuous, or manipulative, or outright intimidating. We coach all the team members on how to use specific communication language to acknowledge and transform the many kinds of conflict that have often been swept under the rug for a very long time, and because everyone is learning and practicing it at the same time the team itself begins to grow and self-organize holistically.

As the team members learn how to use these language patterns to communicate their authentic hopes and fears they begin to express their displeasure about what isn’t working more openly, however now in nonjudgmental language. They know how and why to constructively reinforce the things they feel optimistic about. This begins to transform the tension into motivation. With continued practice teams find optimal ways to co-create and co-operate on their projects together, and they begin to evolve a collaborative intelligence that is intuitive in place of what was previously a closed and self-protective group think.

The team you are on could do its important work even more effectively if there was less conflict and politics and more communication! The TESI provides guidance on how to get there.

Building Team Resilience Through Positive Mood

“Pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about

other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.”

Barbara Fredrickson

pie-pos

Positive attitudes on your team will build resilience and impact every dimension of team work. Positivity will impact how well people get along with one another, how pleased they are to be on the team, their motivation and their creative thinking. That is why this is one of the seven team competencies of the TESI® (Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®). In her books Positivity and Love 2.0, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson provides the scientific grounding to prove the power of positive engagement. Probably because most of organizational work is accomplished through teams, we are finding a tremendous thirst to better understand what this means for teams and how to assist teams in growing their positive mood.

Positivity is central to the ability to collaborate, which is based on the ability to work jointly with one another, to listen to different perspectives and to find common answers. Collaborative Growth’s team model demonstrates how we bring team emotional and social intelligence competencies together to create collaborative intelligence. One of the easiest team strengths to build is positive mood so take advantage of this and build your team skills.

Developing teams is a complex challenge that never stops requiring positive and proactive attention. One of the challenges to team effectiveness is the tendency for people to think and act individually and objectively, that is to focus on the task rather than each other. Busy team members can become so externally focused on projects and customers that they forget to pay attention to their personal needs or those of the team. This lack of internal team focus can occur for several reasons:

  • Addressing interpersonal relationships can seem much less controllable or scientific and less predictable and thus too uncertain;
  • Team members may not be trained to be good at team or human dynamics, they enjoy being an expert and they aren’t expert in this field;
  • Their external focus in getting all the jobs done may leave them drained with little energy left for the team; this is often compounded by highly demanding organizational politics;
  • The team leader may be an expert in his/her production world but likely is not trained to be a team leader and to manage complex interpersonal situations and to build motivation while maintaining accountability; and
  • The full organization may not be aware of the challenges their teams are experiencing nor understand how they could support the team in effective change.

Thus, intentional effort to build a team’s positivity and resilience is needed to get the most from your team.

Art Aron, a human relations scientist, conducted research that shows how people move from a sense of separation – me and you – to a sense of being together – us or we. His research was done with couples, but the same principles apply to teams, which are a group of people working together to solve problems. The more overlap the individual team members see between each other, the more likely they will have a sense of “us” and that leads to a series of positive results. In turn, this increased connection leads to helpful responses among team members that build trust as team members learn they can rely on considerate and supportive responses from one another. Most people will say they agree with the maxim that “All of us are smarter than one of us.” Understanding the effects of positive mood helps show us how to act that way, not just say it.

Fredrickson writes that positivity broadens one’s view from “me” to “us” and then to “all of us,” not just the part of the group that looks or thinks like you. Thus building positive attitudes within your team will expand the effectiveness of your diversity efforts. We often talk about emotions being highly contagious and that is so for positivity, just like it is for negativity. This makes it important for team leaders as well as all team members to be intentionally positive. Fredrickson explains that “positivity spreads because people unconsciously mimic emotional gestures and facial expressions of those around you … positivity breeds helpful, compassionate acts.” Furthermore, she points out that when we act positively with others we are likely proud of our engagement and “pride broadens your mindset by igniting your visions about other and larger ways in which you might be helpful.” (Positivity, pp. 69-70) This is a goal all organizations have for their teams.

Building Team Resilience and Positive Mood

resilience_meterppt-3levelsResilience and positive mood are closely connected. Resilience includes the ability to bounce back and relies on teams having a reserve to tap into when big challenges hit. That reserve is built by how team members treat each other and what they expect of one another. The more positive members of a team are, the deeper the reserve and the less often they are likely to need to tap into it. Positivity builds perspective so teams take challenges in stride rather than making them a big deal that expands stress instead of resilience.

Tips and Strategies

Use emotional intelligence to grow your teams’ positivity and resilience. Positive Mood and Stress Tolerance are two key competencies in the TESI that build team resilience. Of course while the team is building these competencies, they will find that some team members are more positive than others so the team leader needs to work with the whole team while respecting the differences as the team builds composite resilient strength. Tips for success include:

  • Build the habit of finding people doing something well and publicly thank them. This can be implemented by the team leader as well team members.
  • Start team meetings with a discussion of something that has worked well recently. Then the team can move to strategic analysis and can proactively cross map that skill that success reflects to other requirements.
  • Social connections are at the heart of team success so take time for building connections – and emphasize it even more if you have a virtual team. Do something fun together, have a pot luck lunch, and start meetings with going around the team and asking everyone to comment on something particularly interesting or important to them.
  • Find purposefulness in the team work so the team feels the sense of being a part of something bigger than itself. A traditional way to do this is with Mission, Vision and Values statements. Make sure those statements are meaningful and that the team feels ownership and pride or they won’t help.
  • Support team members in taking time to be relaxed with each other so the connections are built resulting in the natural desire to get one another’s back when needed.
  • Respond to comments made by one another. People want to be heard more than they want to be right. Applying skills such as active listening and empathetic responses will help people feel acknowledged and valued and that builds positivity and engagement.
  • Intentionally tap into the team wisdom. Your team knows what they need, however you may need to facilitate their recognizing and employing that wisdom. Take creative brainstorming time to explore topics such as: “What works that we can expand?” and “What do we want that we can influence?”

Recognize that positivity and trust go hand in hand as positivity supports deepening relationships. Develop positivity deliberately and expansively for the benefit of all individuals, teams and the organization.

Team Leaders Motivate Your Teams!

team_cheerLeading emotionally intelligent teams is a tough job. Developing your skill is worth it as teams strong in EI are productive, creative and loyal to their organization. Building team motivation is a key strategy for success and it’s a skill team leaders can always enhance by implementing the 7 motivation actions. This article complements our earlier team motivation article on Change and Teams found at http://www.cgrowth.com/articles/motivate_team.pdf.

Follow these 7 action steps to motivate your team. Before you implement any of these steps, think about someone who did a great job leading a team you were on. How did he or she motivate you? How did he or she engage and follow through. Now with a good example in mind ask:

  1. Who is on that team I’m leading? Know your team members individually.

Get to know your team members individually and help them know each other through an assessment such as Emergenetics or MBTI. You’ll be amazed at how much good data supports understanding team members’ preferences. With this information you can strategically target your requests to gain the best buy in.

  1. What’s my team good at? What are their challenges?

Access your team with the TESI®. The Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey®, is a team 360 reporting on how team members access their functioning in seven core areas of team engagement. These measurable results help teams focus on how to tap into their skills and improve areas of weakness. You and your team can measure success through the pre-post assessment.

  1. What rings their bells – what dampens their spirits?

Pay attention to the feedback you receive on a regular basis and repeat what works. Weave your data on individual and team strengths in order to further positive engagement.

  1. How will the team break out of old patterns to awaken creativity and boost spirits?

Creativity is an energizer. Even though some team members may moan about change, when you lead them in purposeful change and have a defined approach and outcomes it will help build new energy and clear out old ways of doing things that aren’t necessary anymore.

  1. What’s our team attitude?

Discuss the power of attitude with your team. Ask team members to explore current attitudes and then set intentions for the attitude they will express in the future. Be specific about who does what so you can notice as engagement improves.

  1. What inspires team members and the team as a whole?

What about giving some time to a worthwhile community project? You and the team could spend an hour at a soup kitchen or a day helping build a house. There are many ways to contribute. Challenge the team to consider options and find one a suitable project. After contributing your time get together and debrief. Talk about how it felt, what you learned about your community and what it means to volunteer as a team.

  1. How will we know when we have a team that functions with emotional and social well-being?

The Collaborative Growth team model measures the seven specific skills seen in the outer ring. Your team can take the TESI, consider Collaborative Growth Team Modeltheir skills and opportunities, and engage in intentional growth. The model shows that as teams are deliberately enhancing their skills they develop the benefits shown in the middle circle, such as trust, and then progress to being a team that enjoys emotional and social well-being. This is a highly productive and engaged state which leads to sustainable good results. However, be sure to pay attention to maintaining those skills. High performance requires constant attention.

Communicating Around the Team Table

 

The single biggest problem in communication is

the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

group_peopleAsk any team what they need to improve most and they are like to say “Communications!” And they are right. Any team that communicates well has the foundational tools to respond well to stress, conflict, changes and to have a positive mood. So there’s a lot in it for you as a team leader or team member to improve team communications. Fortunately, this can be done! Remember all those phrases like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or a stitch in time saves nine! Apply this tested savvy to teams and you know it’s time to improve how you speak and listen to one another. This is one of the seven skills in the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Survey® (TESI®), described in our book The Emotionally Intelligent Team.

Yet if communication is so important why is it often such a failure? Frankly, it’s not a complex answer. The skills needed have not been taught, fostered and insisted upon; mediocrity is too often accepted. Let’s start with noting the key parts to good communication.

Communication is what team members do to connect with others so that they can understand the collection of goals that are being pursued and how well each is proceeding in the attempt to satisfy their needs. Communication consists of the following ingredients as identified in The Emotionally Intelligent Team:

  1. Sender: the person who transmits the information
  2. Receiver: the person to whom the information is transmitted
  3. Message: the information transmitted
  4. Meaning: the intent of the message
  5. Feeling: adds depth to the message
  6. Technique: how the message is communicated

Communication is how people interact with each other so they can satisfy their needs and desires to make life better. To communicate, one person (the sender) must transmit information to someone else (the receiver). This message can go to the whole team or to one person, but there has to be an exchange of a message or there is no communication. For example, if a team member speaks about an issue, and another team member later believes he or she never heard of the topic, communication did not occur.

For effective communication to occur, the sender’s meaning must also be clearly understood by the receiver. Meaning is conveyed by both verbal and nonverbal communication. If the sender’s words are encouraging but he or she is looking down when speaking, the message and meaning are mixed. Nonverbal communication is likely to convey more of the truth, so it is important that the sender’s verbal and nonverbal messages are congruent in order for the meaning to be accurately understood.

All communication has meaning, from the trivial – “Please post a notice of our meeting” – to that of huge consequence – “The building is on fire!” The feeling component adds even more depth to the meaning.

Finally, technique is critical for effective communication. Without the awareness and implementation of effective techniques, the message, meaning, and feeling in the communication is lost. The following exercises will help build team communication. We have provided many tips and exercises for working with team communications in our Team Emotional and Social Intelligence Facilitator’s Guide – TESI® Short. This is an important area for us to strengthen together. So send us an email at mhughes@cgrowth.com or comment here on our blog!