The Importance of Communication, Collaboration and Community

The importance of communication and collaboration in building great teams is widely accepted. But how do you make this part of your corporate team building program?

I suggest that you design your corporate team building program like a table with three legs. What do I mean by that?

I mean that you should focus on three areas to achieve a stable and long-lasting team building outcome:

  1. effective communication in the workplace
  2. collaboration skills and a collaborative culture
  3. a sense of community and team spirit

Leave out any one of them, and your team building efforts are likely to be less than successful.

This idea of the three C’s of successful team building – the importance of Communication, Collaboration and Community – was inspired by an article written by Patrick James Duffy, a leadership and strategic planning coach headquartered in Edmonton Canada. He and his wife, Adrienne, own and operate the consultancy, Big Futures Inc.

Patrick says he applies the 3 C’s as an informal but effective system in his work. He says that leaders who use this system properly – who build their corporate team building program around these three concepts – will gain insights into the different stages and needs of a team.

The Importance of Communication – the “first leg”

Communication is such an important factor in a team’s success that it should be a critical focus in any corporate team building program. What is a team without communication really?

Effective communication in the workplace:

  1. Strengthens relationships among team members
  2. Clarifies goals, expectations and responsibilities
  3. Prevents misunderstandings
  4. Encourages, motivates and inspires the team.

All teams simply must focus on the importance of communication and implement strategies to achieve effective communication in the workplace. Otherwise, team performance will suffer.

So what should this part of your corporate team building program include?

  1. Assess the team’s communication capability.
  2. Evaluate the functional communication systems in place.
  3. Identify any barriers to effective communication

There are a variety of tools to assess communication skills of team members, and most teams can identify barriers to effective communication themselves through some facilitated discussion.

But what is meant by functional communication systems?

A functional communication system might include the structure that supports in-person communication (i.e., meetings or updates). It might also include the methods used to make sure communication happens and succeeds (agenda protocols, meeting minutes, action plans, etc.).

If all the right communications systems and procedures are in place and being used properly, a team has the tools for clear and direct forward movement.

Teamwork Collaboration – the “second leg”

The importance of communication in effective team building may be number one, but team leaders also should give priority to assessing the strength of teamwork collaboration within the group.

Patrick Duffy of Big Futures Inc. uses a definition of collaboration that means more than working together:

“In the sense I use it, it means working together in a mutually beneficial way – creating a win-win, as Stephen Covey, the most famous of the leadership gurus, would put it,” Patrick says.

It is up to leaders to build the desire in their people to collaborate, and recognize where and how team members can work together.

Collaborative strategies can and should encompass many ideas and approaches. For example, leaders and their teams need to understand each member’s preferred style in getting things done.

Say that one member is great at researching the physical sciences. Another is particularly talented at project management. And a third builds beautiful prototypes. It looks to me like you’ve got a small team that can build a rocket!

What chance does any one team member have in building a rocket without help? A slim chance.

Teams can also look inside themselves to identify personality types or communication styles. Members, with the help of their leader, will uncover the synergies and collaborative opportunities they hold. They can train each other in different areas, too, and they can take on special projects that might not otherwise be tackled.

With all this communication and collaboration, you could say that you and your people are well into becoming their own community.

Which is, of course, the final C in our system.

The Team as a Community - Last but not Least

The Team as a Community - Last but not Lea After the importance of communication, I’d probably rank a sense of community both within and surrounding a team’s success as the next most vital part of building a high performance team.

Community can feel like an abstract thing. But according to Big Futures, it doesn’t need to be:st

“We need rituals and events to remind us just how compelling and real community is.

Community can mean many things to many teams, but it seems most effective when it has common goals. A common community goal can be sponsoring a charity, driving innovative trends within an industry, or engaging in a special project. This is what feeds the team’s spirit and elevates it to a whole new level, beyond merely working together.

When President Kennedy focused on the moon project as a common community goal, he joined all three of these aspects. Is it any wonder that the U.S. reached the moon as quickly as it did?”

Creating opportunities to improve the sense of community and team spirit in your team can be fun!

That’s because it is important that that teams derive their sense of community through experience.

You can’t just say, look, we’re a community, and, voila, become one. You and your people need a compelling, shared experience.

Look for a community goal or experience that reflects the fundamental make-up of the team:

  • The shared values of the team members
  • The desire to pursue peak experiences
  • the passion to achieve purposeful results

Individual participation in a common goal solidifies the basic desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. How a team experiences community often gives it a real sense as to what it means and what is most fulfilling about it.

One option is some form of philanthropic team building activity. Your team’s community projects may become metaphors for everything else your team does.

So there they are. The three Cs.

In identifying your team’s ultimate success formula, I invite you to consider the importance of communication, collaboration and community as the foundation for your corporate team building program.

Excellence in all three can ultimately determine how effective your team can be.

Thanks again to Patrick Duffy for the inspiration for this page. You can see the listing for the Edmonton-based company owned and operated by Patrick and his wife, Adrienne, Big Futures Inc., in our team building directory. 

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