How many of you are on teams at work? A quick count will tell you...all of us. Even if you're a true soloepreneur, I would challenge you to think of a situation where you don't need to act like a team member with a vendor or a client. If we're all on teams, and if most of us are on more than one team (91% of high level leaders are on multiple teams), you'd think that this would be the ONE facet of work that companies are amazing at doing.

This is not the case. In fact most workers say that teamwork is where organizations are failing them. Nearly 40% of employees believe that their organizations aren't collaborative enough.

Poor team building has huge ramifications on a personal and an organizational level. And, without being too hyperbolic, the way we look at how to develop teams, communicate and collaborate will shape the entire way we look at work as a whole. With the influx of Millennials who crave collaboration more than other workers, organizations can't afford to get teamwork wrong. That means leaders and companies need be ahead of the curve.

The problem is that teams are still being built on the same principles that were present when the teamwork movement started. We have teams still largely built on departmental functions to serve specific purposes. Many teams are still made up of very similar workers with very similar mindsets and experience levels. But the workplace is a much different place now. In order to work in this kind of economy, teams need to have greater diversity and more effective and meaningful communication. And, they need to be more efficient in the way they work. Teams are put together for a reason...and that is to have a maximizing effect.

So we have a few issues at play:

  1. Teamwork needs to have more freedom--employees should be able to grab different people and ideas in order to solve the problem. This is the Apple model of open workspaces where people can literally find one another more easily and not get siloed.
  2. People must be able to truly collaborate with anyone else--it's easy to collaborate with those who do your job or think just like you. It's much harder to collaborate with people who think differently than you or who will challenge your ideas.
  3. Teamwork has to be updated for the 21st Century--teams are spread around the world. Team communication is happening digitally and continually and the way people communicate still must be meaningful. Relationships still form the basis for working together, and the relationship is becoming harder to manage in this new digital age.

How do you overcome this? Well, it takes diligent effort and a different way of looking at teams and at how people most effectively communicate. Our company has created a mobile version of our proprietary thinking and behavioral assessment, the Emergenetics Profile, in order to solve these issues. We call it Emergenetics because it adds understanding to the way people and teams actually communicate in the real world and puts insights into a digital, mobile realm.

We have thousands of people throughout the world take our Profile every month, so we have great data to pull from in order to understand the kinds of questions people have and what companies are looking for when it comes to the way workers and teams need to collaborate. What we found is that in order for collaboration to really happen and to address the issues above, a few things were really important.

  1. Individuals need to have a starting point for knowing how they operate and that needs to be easy to access at all times. This screen shows what that looks like for me. In this case, I get a quick visual for how I think and behave (I'm largely a Social and Conceptual Thinker and I tend to be gregarious and driving) and I know what my tendencies are in communicating. That's step 1.
  2. Individuals need to be able to find others quickly and easily, and be able to know how to work with them. This screen shows how you can search for others within your organization, which creates a way to create a team of people that all think and behave differently than me. Or, I can see what makes other team members tick. Its social networking using the innate aspects of who we are as people.
  3. Individuals need to know quickly how to communicate best with one another. This is where a quick-hit comparison comes into play. If you don't always have a chance to work right next to your team members, you can't always pick up on differences in personality or communication styles. This shows what that looks like--where any two people can instantly see differences and similarities and adjust accordingly.
  4. Teams need to be dynamic, diverse and informed in order to be collaborative. This screen highlights how a team is truly a collective. Knowing what motivates a team, where its strengths lie and where biases may exist, allows leaders to better push the team to performance.

Truly, this is about creating an easy, accessible and understandable way to better understand and communicate with others. The future of work will just become more dependent on collaboration and less rigidly structured to the traditional means of communication and interaction. The quick-hit, digital age is here, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be able to have real meaningful interactions and do amazing work in a collaborative way.

Click on video below to see how the Emergenetics Profile app works: