Five Aspects of Collaboration Styles that Boost Team Productivity


Understanding collaboration style helps us bridge gaps in how people see the world for virtual team effectiveness.

We’re in for the long haul to restore all-round health, folks. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t a sprint anymore but a marathon. The current landscape feels like we’re all in the Iditarod – no normal marathon but a month-long race across the frozen tundra, with destinations changing enroute as threats emerge. But it may not be long before this scenery changes and you need to make a dash for your business goals, without moving out of your designated lanes. So, what’s the fix for times like these when you are in a series of rapid pivots, and you need things you don’t have or you’re not going to have? Can your marathoners become sprinters and occasionally burst out of the gates, or can your sprinters build the stamina for a long, steady pace?
Running experts tell us that changing training habits, race tactics, and running styles would take a herculean effort – applied over time. Moreover, conventional wisdom and popular business culture is all about focusing on strengths, instead of trying to work on hard-to-change traits and temperaments. Of course, you can adapt some traits, but along with your self-awareness, you need a team. Today, that means a virtual team. And you need to be functional together now!
Understanding collaboration style helps us bridge gaps in how people see the world for virtual team effectiveness.
Pollinate CEO, Christy Pettit suggests that it is time to gain a deeper understanding of collaboration styles. Read on to learn how paying attention to the five key aspects of collaboration styles can boost your team productivity, engagement levels, and organizational effectiveness.
Understanding collaboration style helps us bridge gaps in how people see the world for virtual team effectiveness.

How Collaboration Styles Drive Connections and Teamwork

Whether your work environment operates remotely, onsite, or in a hybrid manner, effective teamwork requires collaboration and healthy connections between teams. So, how does collaboration style play a critical role in how successfully we operate as a work group for accomplishing common goals? It’s simple. Knowing how your co-workers function best can go a long way in ironing out potential obstacles or conflicts, and creating a winning team. An overview of every team member’s collaboration style can help improve the team construct, connections, and overall work efficiencies. For example:

  • Decision Making: Based on the gut, head, hands or heart?
  • Learning or Absorbing New Information: In a visual, kinesthetic, or blended style?
  • Sorting New Information: Based on similarities (typically 80% of the population), or sorting for differences?
  • Resolving Issues or Team Conflicts: Prefer a quick resolution or rely on a non-confrontational style by keeping the issues open as long as possible?
  • Interaction Level: Prefer limited interaction and greater independence or thrive in a group environment to process and learn?

This is where Pollinate’s Knowledge Transfer Index (KTI) comes in. Created in 2008 to provide a window to collaboration styles through a virtual assessment, the KTI has been used in diverse scenarios, including:

  • Virtual learning communities
  • Teams working on emerging issues
  • Creation of mentoring pairs

Understanding Collaboration Styles through the KTI

The KTI’s robust design seamlessly supports virtual groups and pairs, as many of our mentoring programs have always been across regions, nations, or even around the globe. The KTI’s seven elements provide insights to weave your teams together around the most pressing issues or current organizational priorities. Due to its virtual-assessment construct, the KTI has enabled thousands of mentoring pairs, teams, and cohorts of learners to make the most of precious time together, shortening the path to productivity and increasing engagement and effectiveness.
Here are five key things we’ve learned about collaboration style differences to help you accelerate virtual team effectiveness:

  1. Motivation: Every person’s motivation comes from a desire to have things fit into their world view. The key is to avoid feeling vexed or perplexed with their thought processes, and reframe your view from “All of these questions are driving me crazy” to “What picture are we trying to build here?”
  2. Information Processing Method: Be mindful that some people may need to process new information on their own, versus others who prefer to do it jointly with other team members. While scheduling tasks and sprints, remember to balance the team’s needs for both, togetherness and seclusion.
  3. Resolution Time or Pace: Every person’s information processing or resolution style defines their pace of working and decision-making. Some prefer to tackle issues head on and quickly, while others may like more time to decide on matters. Maintain clear communication on tasks and timelines to ensure uniform understanding and the desired pace of closures.
  4. Criticism Appreciation: Playing the devil’s advocate or pointing out things that others don’t see, stems from the person’s trait of sorting information based on differences, instead of similarities. Create a tolerant and appreciative environment for such team members and the new perspectives that they can bring. It’s about treating your “Hey, what about…?” person as an asset instead of a liability.
  5. Team Construct: Teams work best with a balance of collaboration styles. Differences challenge and refine the work, while similarities enable speedy closures. Having a healthy respect for them is a key success factor for an efficient virtual team.

Boost Productivity and Virtual Team Effectiveness with the KTI

Whether you favour the sprint or the marathon, or even if you’re a middle-distance runner, you need people around you who complement your strengths and style, now more than ever. Find that virtual team and get functional. The race we’re in right now is not for the solo runner.
Interested in exploring collaboration styles for yourself or your teams? Contact us to learn more about Pollinate’s Knowledge Transfer Index (KTI) today.

Christy Pettit is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Pollinate Networks Inc.

For 25 years, Christy has developed new approaches and best practices for agile, effective organizations worldwide. She is an expert on matching people and organizations for applications including knowledge transfer and mentorship programs, flexible virtual and hybrid teams, and productive organizational and business ecosystems and networks.



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