Collaboration in the Workplace – The DNA of Teamwork


The Web 2.0 revolution is changing the way information is exchanged and allowing individuals, businesses, and communities to connect and share resources, ideas, and solutions like never before. Collaborative expertise is the new key competency for business success.

Fostering a work culture that values and cultivates collaboration is the DNA of team building. As One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard discovered, in a teamwork environment, people understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions and actions are better when done cooperatively. People recognize and assimilate the belief that „none of us is as good as all of us.“

In America, many of our institutions such as schools, our family structures, and our pastimes still emphasize winning, being the best, and coming out on top. Workplaces that exemplify and reward teamwork are not yet the norm.

Organizations, however, are working on valuing diverse people, ideas, backgrounds, and experiences. As part of the social transformation that we see taking place globally, collaboration, co-creation and cooperation seem to be values that are being more readily embraced and promoted in organizational development.

Having consulted many senior managers, educational, and organizational leaders over the past 13 years, I’ve included here my Ten Tips for Building Terrific Teams as a quick guide to cultivating successful teams, encouraging creativity and innovation, and attaining optimal results within your business or organization.


1. Communicate Clear Expectations.

It is crucial that team members know why they are working together, and how their role, functions, and outcomes contribute to the bigger picture and overall success of the organization, its clients and coworkers. As a leader, how clearly you communicate the overall vision, mission, and values of the organization will be the power driving the team forward.

2. Have an agenda with objectives at team meetings.

Allow time for progress updates, discussion, brainstorming, and action plans. It can be particularly beneficial if the meeting facilitator is trained in Cross-Cultural Awareness, or Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication practices. Using these techniques will help keep a diverse team cohesive and focused, encourage everyone’s participation, and can easily diffuse and transform stagnation. Change, creativity and solutions are not birthed in a static environment. Are necessary concerns and misunderstandings raised and properly addressed on your team?

3. Include your consultants and independent contractors in your brainstorming meetings.

One of the biggest mistakes some organizations make is to not include consultants and independent contractors in staff meetings, project updates, long-term goals and vision. You will get a lot more mileage from your consultants when they are included in discussions and sessions affecting your organization’s direction and growth. Consultants are typically natural networkers and wealth of resources. They can easily be a powerful contributing factor to your organization’s long-term success and expansion.

4. Cultivate an atmosphere where team members can appreciate the diversity of talent on the team, not just in skill set and areas of expertise, but from a whole person perspective. If the team is working on a long-term project consider investing in the Myers Briggs assessment, DISC or Enneagram training for the workplace.

5. Have a rewards or recognition program in place.

Giving public recognition on the company intranet, newsletter, or in a staff meeting, or rewarding high-performers with gift certificates to a spa or event, are just a few low-cost, no-cost ways to acknowledge team members for a job well done.

6. Build fun and shared occasions into the organization’s agenda.

Hold potluck lunches; take the team to a performance or cultural event. Host dinners at a local restaurant, (include your associates‘ families) or plan an outdoor event such as hiking, bicycling, or even river rafting.

7. Encourage collaborative leadership models within your workplace.

Move away from traditional, hierarchical leadership models that are deadening to the human spirit and that can create separation, distrust, and a competitive environment. Focus on cooperative models for team performance. Rotating facilitators at your weekly or monthly meetings is one way to begin this shift. Appointing co-managers to lead a project is another effective strategy.

8. Create opportunities for giving and receiving feedback.

In his recent US tour, the Dalai Lama continually emphasized the importance of dialog, along with education and training opportunities in our increasing diverse and complex society. How well trained are you and your people in examining assumptions, active listening, asking for clarification, and other non-defensive communication models that make it safe for you and your associates to express needs, be heard, and enthusiastically create innovative solutions with and for each other?

9. Provide resources.

One of the surest ways to create chaos and diminish motivation, performance, and morale is to expect people to perform without the tools and resources they need to deliver outcomes they are proud of. Be sure everyone has the basic information and tools they need to perform, including healthy, ergonomic workstations.

10. Form a Green Team at work.

Help your people raise their awareness of opportunities to save energy and contribute to a healthy and sustainable environment. By allowing others to take leadership and responsibility, passion takes hold. A green team can be very motivational for employees who want to make a difference in their work environment.

It takes teamwork to make the dream work!