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Clarity and Collaboration Habits for Great Teams

Great Teams: 12 Practical Collaboration Habits to Create Clarity

by | Dec 11, 2023 | By Karin Hurt and David Dye, powerful phrases, Synergy Stack |

4 Cs for Great teams and Better Collaboration Karin Hurt and David Dye

Clarity is key to better collaboration and more productive workplace conflict.

clarity and collaboration

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Think about any significant conflict you have now, or had in the past. We’re willing to bet that the source of the conflict includes an expectation violation of some kind. You thought they’d clean up their coffee cups after the meeting. They thought the magic coffee mug fairy would take care of it.

Everyone carries around expectations of one another. And sometimes, you don’t even know what you expect until someone doesn’t live up to it.  The second dimension of constructive workplace conflict from our new book, Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, involves getting everyone on the same page: creating clarity about outcomes and expectations.

One of the common mistakes we see people make in workplace conflict is that they don’t clearly understand what success looks like. So you get conversations like this.

Jack: “I don’t like this.”

Jill: “Okay, what would you like to see happen.”

Jack: “I don’t know. I’m not sure what I want.

Can you feel the frustration? That’s a conversation that can’t go anywhere (And before you feel bad when you show up like Jack… listen, we do it too.)

When you get clear for yourself and help other people find their clarity, now you can have a more productive conversation.

12 Habits Great Teams Consistently Do to Create Better Clarity and Collaboration

Here are 12 foundational habits to create greater clarity. Note that this is part two of our better teamwork series (links to the other three articles are at the bottom of this page).

1. Define Success: Visualize and articulate your vision for a desired future

Habit: I establish clear outcomes and expectations.

Define SuccessEngage others on your team by asking, “What does winning truly look like?” Great teams don’t assume everyone’s on the same page. They take time to describe the desired future with specific goals, expectations, and measurements of success.

Related Article: How to Build a Great Team Culture

2. Know What Matters Most: Understand how your work connects to the bigger picture

Habit: I seek out the bigger why behind any task.

Before you can make meaning (see Habit 3 below), understand the bigger why.

3. Make Meaning: Establish a bridge between daily tasks and overarching objectives

Great teams Collaboration by seeing the bigger pictureHabit: I help connect the work we do to the bigger picture

Great teams don’t just perform tasks; they delve into the “why” behind their work. They seek a deeper understanding and purpose. Be sure you and your teammates can finish this sentence. “This (work, project, process, procedure) is so important because…”

4. Set Clear Expectations: Articulate a clear definition of success

Habit: I communicate clear and specific expectations.

One good conversation about expectations prevents fourteen “why didn’t you” conversations. One secret to better collaboration is clear expectations.

Related Article: Creating Clarity: Strategic Activities for Human-Centered Leaders

5. Communicate Consistently: Vary communication to break through distractions

Habit: I build a proactive communication plan to get everyone on the same page. 

People make memories based on recency, recall, repetition, and emotion. If you want an important message to cut through distractions, communicate multiple times through different channels. Great teams prioritize communication.

Related Article:  Remote Team Communication: How to Send Memorable Messages

6. Check For Understanding: Ensure the message you intend to send is the message received

check for understandingHabit: I ensure the message sent is the message received.

You always make sense to you, but how do you know your team understood what you meant? How do you know you’ve understood what someone says to you? Good communication involves a feedback loop: a send and a receive.

Related Article: Check for Understanding: A Leadership Communication Best Practice

7. Schedule the Finish: Close the loop with a clear commitment

Habit: I confirm specific deliverables and timeframes for when we will follow up on commitments.

You’ve got more to do than time to do it. Your plan is going to get interrupted. Your interruptions are going to get interrupted. If you don’t have an intentional, focused way to finish what you start, it won’t happen. Great teams don’t leave accountability to chance or a heroic act of willpower. They set clear expectations about deliverables and timeframes.

Related Article: High ROI Leadership: Schedule the Finish 

8. Prioritize What Matters Most: Spend time on activities that will have the biggest impact

Habit: I spend my time working on our most important things. 

Great teams understand that there’s always an infinite need and finite me, so mind the MIT (most important thing). Want a great team? Prioritize activities and habits on what will have the biggest impact.

Related Article: Productivity at Work—How to Lead Highly Productive Teams

9. Clarify Others’ Interests: Understand what a successful outcome looks like for others

Habit: I seek to understand what matters most to others.

One easy way to foster collaboration is to ask, “What would a successful outcome look like for you?”

10. Look for Common Ground: Seek opportunities for alignment

Habit: I help people realize our shared objectives. 

Great teams have a knack for finding common ground and using that as a starting point for collaboration.

11. Share Information and Best Practices: Proactively communicate helpful insights

Habit: I freely contribute what I know to make work easier for others.

Great teams build a habit of sharing what’s working. They look for ways to be helpful and to make one another’s work a bit lighter.

Related Article: How to Share Best Practices That Improve Results

12. Share Concerns: Initiate important conversations

Habit: You can count on me to tell you what’s on my heart and mind.

Collaborative teammates say what needs to be said and have the hard conversations sooner.

Related Article: How to Start the Conversation Everyone Wants to Avoid

See Also the other 3 Articles in our 4-Part Collaboration Habits Series


Better Teamwork: 12 Practical Team Habits to Build Deeper Connection

Creative Teams: 12 Habits That Foster Curiosity and Collaboration

Create Commitment: 12 Habits to Build Agreement and Accountability

Learn More About SynergyStack

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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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