In school, I always struggled with the team project. The idea of collaborating with others and creating a plan for creating the work always seemed to lend itself to a lot of vague discussions followed by one person doing the heavy lifting to get the project across the finish line. In my career, I’ve learned that essentially most of my work life is one big group project. I’m sure we’ve all worked on projects with colleagues that go well and then we’ve worked on some projects that just can never get going or get finished. What are the key features of a successful collaboration versus an unsuccessful one? 

Trust

At the core of a positive collaborative experience is trust. If your team trusts each other, it really does enhance the communication process. In Franklin Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, Covey describes in great detail the benefits of working in a high-trust environment. A few of these benefits include decisions being made faster and the outcomes of these collaborative efforts are more impactful. 

Clarity

What is the purpose of your project or collaborative effort? Is there a specific time when the purpose or objective needs to be completed? Collaborative endeavors that seem to drag on are usually lacking in a clear purpose and a deadline hasn’t been agreed upon. If these two items are taken care of right at the beginning of a project, the team has a better chance of success. Also, each team member should have a clear idea of their purpose for being on the project as well as what is expected 

A Conflict Management Strategy

When collaborating with others, differences of opinion are bound to happen, and having a strategy for managing conflict is helpful to continue to move forward. The first step in managing conflict is to accept it’s happening. If a team tries to ignore the fact there is an issue, this is only going to break any trust within the team that has already been established. Direct communication is generally best between those team members that might be experiencing conflicting views.

Summary

Collaboration is essential in the workplace. As long as teams focus on supporting a high-trust environment, having a clear focus and deadline, and a strategy for managing conflict, any collaborative endeavor can be successful.

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What Would Ted Lasso Say?

Every Friday, my husband and I look forward to getting our two-year-old son into bed so that we can watch Ted Lasso. I didn’t think I would be into this show, but after a few of our friends recommended it, we decided to give it a try. My husband is an avid Manchester United fan and is also pretty familiar with the Premier League, so it’s always interesting to have a discussion with him each week about how the episode reminds him of real players and real leadership situations. I have found myself really enjoying the additional context to Ted Lasso, but I’ve also found myself really enjoying Ted’s leadership style and a few of Ted’s more quotable moments. 

1. “Be a Goldfish.” Ted uses this line when he’s talking to one of his players after he makes a mistake. The reason he gives for the Goldfish being so happy is he has the shortest memory. We all mistakes and don’t we all wish we didn’t. I am definitely one of those people that can overanalyze a bit much sometimes when it comes to my decisions and actions, so keeping this phrase in mind makes me chuckle to myself just a bit when I start getting too wrapped up in the past. This humorous motto is a great reminder not to take our mistakes too seriously and to just let them go.

2. “It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” In season one, it’s amazing how much vitriol is slung at Ted from the stands, from the streets, from his team, and secretly from his manager. Despite the insults and negative attitudes, Ted pushes on while optimistically pursuing his dream of making the players versions of themselves. Although he’s a fictional character, I can’t help but imagine what it might be like to be a coach of a sports team and constantly having your decisions second-guessed and criticized in a very public way. Although it seems painful, Ted is never deterred by the public’s review of his performance, he remains focused on his purpose with the team: making them “the best versions of themselves.” 

3. It’s okay if people underestimate you. One of my favorite moments in season one is when the audience finds out that Ted has a hidden talent when it comes to darts. He uses this time to shine to the benefit of his boss. From time to time, I think all of us need to have our egos stroked, but I find it interesting that Ted only uses his talent to shine when it is for the purpose of serving another.

I know I can fall into the trap of taking myself too seriously sometimes and I’m glad that I have a weekly reminder from Ted Lasso that as I pursue some of my biggest goals, I don’t have to lose sight of having a little fun along the way. If you haven’t checked out Ted Lasso, I hope you might watch a few episodes and see if you can glean a few great insights as to how to have a little more fun as you play the game of life. I know I have.