I. Factors for Team Collaboration
Teamwork: What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong Carl E. Larson
and Frank M. J. Lafasto explain that collaboration refers to
the extent to which members 1) communicate openly, 2) disclose problems, 3)
share information, 4) help each other overcome obstacles, and 5) discover ways
of succeeding (Larson and LaFasto
Collaboration can be called "working well together," and is
characterized in two ways: 1) the structure of teams, with clear roles,
responsibilities, and accountabilities; and 2) a feeling or climate that fosters
collaboration through trust.
Trust is produced in a climate that includes four elements:
1) honesty, 2) openness, 3) consistency; and 4) respect. Trust is fragile.
If any of these are breached, the relationship is compromised. "With trust
gone between individuals," say
Larson and LaFasto, "teams have little hope of
functioning well and realizing their true potential" (87).
Collaboration flourishes in a climate of trust for four
reasons. First, trust allows team members to stay problem focused. Second,
trust promotes more efficient communications and coordination. Third, trust
improves the quality of collaborative outcomes. Fourth, trust leads to
compensating and helping each other in weak areas.
The team can build trust and collaboration involvement and
autonomy. Getting people involved and giving them autonomy is what promotes
"A collaborative climate is the essence of teams; it is the
Larson and LaFasto
II. Collaboration in Other Literature
Maddux gives three ways to encourage collaboration: 1)
identify areas of interdependence; 2) open communication channels; 3) let the
team members know that teamwork will positively influence individual recognition
-- reward teamwork (45). Maddux writes that collaboration benefits the
organization in four ways. First, it builds the awareness of team member
interdependence. Two, it stimulates higher levels of performance and leads to
accomplishment of goals. Three, Collaboration builds and reinforces recognition
and mutual support within the team. Four, it leads to commitment to support and
accomplish the organization's goals (45).
The opposite of collaboration is competition. Does
competition help teamwork? What kinds of competition should be encouraged?
Daniels writes that competition can be effective if it
follows these guidelines: 1) make it short, with a maximum of thirteen weeks per
competition; 2) do not use large tangible rewards; 3) compete against a standard
or benchmark, not against other team members; 4) make it fun! (89). When
talking about competition, says Daniels, avoid words like first, best,
highest, top, and most improved, and be aware that some people will
lie, cheat, or steal to win (85).
Francis writes that competition can lead to problems in the
team, because 1) win-lose situations are fostered, 2) communication channels are
lost, 3) close relationships are severed; and 4) self-fulfilling labels are
used, such as "winner" and "loser" (156).
Alfie Cohen did research to see the effects of competition
on classrooms and other organizations. He concluded, based on over 400 studies,
that 1) competition is not required for optimal results, and 2) optimal
results usually require an absence of competition. Cohen found that in
the workplace when people started working together, rather than working against
each other, productivity increased dramatically (Cohen 28).
Mark Sanborn, in his book
Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work, says that team
members should not focus on comparing themselves to others, but should compare
themselves to their potential. The team, says Sanborn, should have clearly
identified external or outward opponents. Work groups, he writes, have internal
competition. External competition may come in the form of a number ( e.g. 30%
increase ) (Sanborn
Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work: 10).