There is a lot of emphasis, these days, on teams and collaboration in the workplace. For many long-established employees who came of age in the workforce where individual achievement was prized over everything else, today’s workplace can be challenging, to say the least, and down-right hard to master, at the highest level. The millennials have a “step up” on the older workforce, because they have been taught and trained to function well in groups.
I have recently had an opportunity to watch a group of 20-something work in teams and it is an enlightening process to watch. The dynamics of the group were very supportive of each other and focused on finding the right ideas and directions. Here are some key lessons I learned from watching these Millennials work in teams:
1) No Egos. I was surprised with the give and take in the group. Each idea or thought that was offered was discussed and analyzed. No one was defending their idea or shooting down someone else’s idea. There was little ego showing, and there was a real desire to find the best solution. The group recognized they would collectively get credit for the solution and together they would seek to find the best answer.
2) Outcome. From the very beginning, they discussed a shared purpose or desire for the group. The group started with a common aim and understanding of the destination. When things got off track, the group would come back to the outcome they wanted to achieve.
3) Polite challenges. There was a sense of respect within the group. That doesn’t mean there were no differences or conflicts. The challenges came in the form of thought-provoking questions like “From what third-party validation did you get that information?” or “What is your source of information?” The group was able to move beyond opinions and focus on facts.
4) Fill the gaps. The business management experts tell us that if you have perfect information, you make perfect decisions. What was interesting to watch with this Millennial group was when they came to junctures where there was a gap in information or where there was a disconnect. The group was able to recognize the gap and worked to fill the gap. Getting as much information as possible helped the decision making process of the group, but knowing when a group lacks complete information is just as important.
5) Final input. When the group was coming to the end of their assignment, each person was asked for their final thoughts and inputs. There were no passes, meaning everyone had to be comfortable with the direction and decision. The final question was, “What are we missing that could help us achieve better results?”
If there was an underlining theme that I saw as I was watching this group, it was the idea or theme of exploring and developing solutions, as opposed to staking a position and swatting away every challenge to the idea or suggestion of improvement. It was a refreshing process to watch and I walked away with a better insight into how groups can work together successfully.
See you in McAllen!