behaveIn the last two weeks, we talked about the difficulties in creating collaboration and the five structural ways to support collaboration. Today, we are going to talk about what most people start with—how to behave. I like this word, because it reminds me how important our beingness is to having what we want.

Critical Success Factors for Collaboration

Before we go to the behaviors, here are four team environment factors that are critical to reaching highly effective collaboration.

  1. An understanding of and interest in each other’s background, knowledge, experience, ways of thinking, strengths, etc.
  2. An agreed approach or discussion format/process. (see post on structure)
  3. Trust that members are “safe” to speak their minds, pose ideas, etc. which can be hard to establish and easily lost.
  4. A way of giving and receiving feedback and coaching.

Two Types of Be-Haviors

The first type of behavior is in one’s mind and happens internally—

  1. Understand your own biases, based on your training and experience.
  2. Understand your own triggers that draw you out of a collaborative dialogue (and into a telling and directing one).
  3. Value the collective design/decision, even when not your own choice.
  4. Stay open, checking any internal resistance.

The second type of behaviors are active and can be seen—

  1. Ask questions that push the thinking of the team.
  2. Offer ideas and information that could enhance the team’s thinking.
  3. Dissect and  make connections between competing ideas, checking the relative impact on the team’s desired outcome.,
  4. Give feedback that is heard as useful information, not judgmental criticism (the latter deflates collaboration).
  5. Make observations about where the team is against the intended outcome, what’s working and what the team could change.

Sounds daunting? Well, that is why we say “choose collaboration carefully.” Not every discussion should be a collaboration. And, staying in the behaviors can be quite difficult. However, when a team works on creating a collaborative workspace on the most important decisions or ideas, the team’s work will be exceptional.

Guess what? You don’t have to wait to have a declared collaborative meeting. You can take these behaviors right into any meeting. Try it this week on an important topic. Simply behave in one or more of the suggested behaviors. See what’s possible if you alone be-haved in this way.