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5 Tips for Team Collaboration

top 5 collaboration tipsFrom the 7 Racing Rules (see main article) by Alex Alley and Paula Reid

  1. Everyone shares, understands and buys in to the five unifying essentials at the heart of the organisation: the vision; mission; values; strategy; and goals. All of these should be clear; communicated effectively and repeatedly. An example in our case was that our skipper literally talked through the Navigational Charts at the start of each leg with both watches on deck. He explained the geography, our route, our strategy for winning – why we were taking the course we were taking and what conditions to expect.
  2. Leaders communicate the why and the what (vision, mission, strategy); employees are involved in the how (values, tactics). Once the skipper and navigator shared their vision and strategy for each leg, it was then delegated to each watch to carry out the strategy on a daily tactical basis through behaviours appropriate to our values – safe, happy, fast. This sharing of the work and sharing of responsibility helps to engender a One Boat culture with less barriers and divisiveness vertically or horizontally across the structure.
  3. Leaders and managers walk the talk, actively demonstrating collaboration, One Boat mentality and behaviours. On Team Stelmar both the skipper and navigator kept out of the watch system so that they remained balanced across the two watches; ensuring that both teams held the same understanding and knowledge and were assuredly working in the same direction. Leadership was not biased or localised, and so remained objective and focussed on the bigger picture.
  4. The induction programme, ongoing development, performance management and appraisals affirm and support the One Boat principle. Team Stelmar’s leggers (new crew who joined the boat for each leg) were given a thorough induction, enabling them to feel comfortably and intrinsically part of the one team as soon as possible, no matter which watch they were assigned to.
  5. Genuine collaboration between teams – not superficial. Cross-team, department, function, country and project working. Our two watches developed slightly different ways of working, had unique systems and practices, developed their own stories and jokes, but when it came to the work that really mattered, the collaboration was Best for Boat (Rule #1.) This was in the main part achieved through watch handovers at every watch change, ‘happy hour’ every Sunday at 6pm (which meant that both watches were on deck together for one hour to share stories and discuss team issues) and in port debriefs with the whole crew to review the past leg and seek performance improvements for the next. These Global Challenge activities are easily transferrable into business: quality handovers, ‘happy hours’ and whole team debriefs.

With thanks to Alex Alley and Paula Reid, Directors of Velocity Made Good, a leadership and performance development company based in London.

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