ATD Blog

3 Steps to Developing Collaboration Competencies

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

This is the third in a series of five posts to describe how managers can coach people to practice genuine collaboration in the workplace. These posts represent excerpts from the ATD’s new book, Focus On Them. Winsor Jenkins is a contributing author of the book.

In my first post, we established a road map described as a Team Mini-Charter for Developing a Culture of Collaboration—along with understanding the significance of an operating platform to support your team’s ability to lead with mindset and produce outstanding team results.

The second post introduced collaboration’s operating principles to explore how managers can leverage them to support their teams’ efforts to produce outstanding results. In this post, let’s take a closer look at collaboration’s competencies.

The table below offers a breakdown of principles and competences:

Operating Principles
Focus on team, not position
Change agility and learning agility
Understand that everyone can play
Drive/energy, initiative, and technical expertise
Embrace diversity
Global skills, relationship building, and sensitivity
Rely on each other
Relationship building, team management, and being a team player
Promote both individual and team values
Global skills, integrity, relationship building, and sensitivity
Seek skillful, adaptable players
Change agility, learning agility, organizing, and planning
Charge the team to perform the work

Results-oriented and visioning

Empower players to win
Problem solving, decision making, and risk taking
Coach teams to respond to changing conditions on their own
Change agility, problem solving, decision making, and communication
Develop partners on the field

Communication, coaching and counseling, delegation,
influence, and relationship building

Achieve cross-cultural agility
Global skills, learning agility, relationship
building, and self-objectivity

Described as the team’s skillset for practicing genuine team collaboration, the idea of teaching people a new range of competencies may seem to be a challenging task in the beginning. Developing competence takes time, but it’s not as complicated as you may think.

Once you and your team are comfortable with the language of competency development, the development process starts with diagnosis. To proceed with diagnosing what needs developing, a relatively easy place to start is by sorting competencies into three categories:

1. Exceptional
2. Proficient
3. Needs Improvement.

A second development step often is to schedule a 360-degree assessment to capture feedback from supervisors, peers, and direct reports. I have used this option many times—as both an internal and external coach—and found it to be highly beneficial for both people and the organization. It provides meaningful feedback for people on the team, and it represents a great platform for coaching.

Next, you can create action plans once strengths have been identified and assessed. From there, it’s a case of targeting selected competencies for growth, followed up with periodic coaching to help reinforce learning and application. Typically, competencies that fall into the “Needs Improvement” category are targeted for development. Keep in mind, however, that the overuse of competencies described as “Exceptional” may surface for development. Remember, competency-based development can include anything from workshops, readings, special developmental assignments, job rotation, and coaching.

Bottom line: Your team’s ability to successfully apply collaboration’s competencies is tied to being mindful of which competencies are aligned with each of the collaboration’s operating principles.

About the Author

Winsor Jenkins is president of Winsor Jenkins & Associates, LLC, based in Portland, Oregon. As a leader who served in senior HR positions and contributed to the professional development of countless business executives, including HR managers, Winsor brings a deep knowledge about what it takes to achieve executive-level leadership in today's changing business landscape. He is the author of The Collaborator: Discover Soccer as a Metaphor for Global Business Leadership.

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