Depending on your age, you may not have much experience with collaborative learning. However, collaborative learning has been integrated in schools starting at the elementary level in the last 10 to 15 years. While it used to be fine to do well on your own, more schools are stressing the group learning dynamic as a key to success. This focus is good, because with modern technology makes communicating with others easy even if they are on the other side of the globe. Teamwork, which has always been the driving force of sports teams, is now just as important in learning. Business is also jumping on the collaborative learning bandwagon, because a business that functions well as a team can out-earn any single amazing salesperson. However, the strength of any team relies on each member working together with others in harmony, doing their part for the collaboration. And since not every member of the team is equally good at working with others, it is imperative to teach your team how to work and learn together for better ROI.
Promoting Collaborative Learning
Millennials are young enough to have been in schools that participated in collaborative learning. These projects include the reports given in groups of four or five where your entire group gets the same grade even if all members do not participate equally. While kids often call out, “Not Fair!" when these projects arise, it is patently clear that life is not fair and there will always be some people who invest more in a job than others. However, in a company that has revenue goals, it really doesn't matter how much each person participates in a given situation as long as the goal is achieved. Later on, when evaluations are given, underperforming participants can be noted for further training. Those who work well together will be the ones who get promoted to the best teams and get to work on the best jobs.
Employees that are not Millennials may not have any experience with collaborative learning. Therefore, it is up to your business to train them how to work together and why it is so critical to your company. Hubspot notes that B2B companies are especially behind in the collaborative model since the "dog eat dog" model of competition is still a hallmark of many corporations. Suggestions to combat this culture include:
- Enterprise social collaboration
- Use video learning and coaching
- Teach through gamification
- Communicate company expectations
- Foster a creative atmosphere
- Build cohesion
- Understand and leverage team member strengths
- Use collaboration tools
- Build team member trust
Building Team Trust
In the movie McFarland, USA, which is based on a true life story, a long distance running team required a minimum of seven runners to compete. Even though most of the team members were fast runners in extreme heat, even the slowest runner was important to the team. In one of the most important competitions, the slowest runner was the reason that the team was able to win because another runner couldn't focus. The movie is a good illustration that it is not always the best sales person or the fastest producer that is the glue that drives a team. Often, it is the slowest or least-skilled employee who makes or breaks collaboration. This concept is just as important in corporations as it is in high school sports. By teaching your team to work as a unit and support each other including the newest addition, you will see more success in the long run.