When employees collaborate, share ideas, and communicate with each other, they’re encouraged to do their best work.

From a brain-based perspective, our most compelling need is for connection. Several decades of clinical evidence and research converge to create a clear picture of a species biologically driven to work together, share the load, and leverage safe and secure connections for mutual benefit. Neuroscientist Dr. James Coan’s Social Baseline Theory points out how those who socialized in clans, groups, and tribes had significantly higher rates of survival and how that reality has shaped the brain’s hard wiring.

That’s why it’s so important to nurture a culture of collaboration and team effectiveness in your workplace. There is a reason why working with others in teams is so effective – we are hardwired to work that way at birth! Successful collaboration starts with a strong leader who understands the many components that are essential for team effectiveness.

Implement the following best practices to develop a collaborative culture in your team and organization as a whole:

Create a shared vision.

Make sure that each team member understands the team’s vision and contributes to determining it. A strong vision that energizes employees is one that establishes meaning and purpose for them. Articulate to team members how their work is contributing to a greater social good, an improved quality of life for customers, or the prosperity of the organization.

Set clear goals that align with the vision. Encourage employees to keep open communication with other team members, so everyone is aware of the progress being made on goals and any setbacks that are occurring.

When employees have a shared vision, it also helps to establish trust among team members, allowing them to work together more effectively to produce top-notch work.

Set clear expectations for deliverables among team members.

Once a clear vision is established, ensure that each member of the team has clarity on their role. For example, on some components of the work, they may need to take a lead role, while on other tasks, they may be supporting someone else. Try to give everyone something to lead so they can feel both empowered and proud of the final product.

When the project is complete, or at key milestones, be sure that credit is spread around accurately and fairly. The last thing you want to happen is for members of the team to feel as though they didn’t get the recognition they deserve for their contributions on a project, leaving them thinking group work feels isolating and unrewarding.

Maintain a positive frame for all team interactions.

As a collaborative team, each member isn’t always going to agree on everything. The exchange of different ideas, opinions, and suggestions is one of the key reasons teams are so beneficial to the organization. Encourage each team member to voice their opinions and vocalize their ideas using “I” statements. “I think we should…” is better than “Here is the best way to fix that…”. Create an environment where ideas can be shared without judgment, and let the group make the final decision whenever possible, even if you as the leader knew the needed outcome from the beginning.

In order to create a highly effective team, it’s essential for employees to establish safe and secure connections with their team members. As a leader, you must encourage staff members to communicate with each other and work toward that “big picture” shared vision. Employees want to feel like they are doing high-quality work with a winning team.

Key Takeaways:

  • When employees collaborate, share ideas, and communicate with each other, it enables them to do their best work.
  • Create a shared vision, set clear expectations for deliverables, and encourage a positive orientation for team interactions in order to establish a strong team culture in your workplace.
  • Focus on helping employees establish safe and secure connections with their team members, as well as build trust with them, to create the most effective team.


Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience That Drives High-Performance Cultures, Don Rheem, ForbesBooks.

Collaboration and Team Science: From Theory to Practice, L. Michelle Bennett and Howard Gadlin, Journal of Investigative Medicine.

Are you looking for more ways to build the foundation for team collaboration in your workplace? Listen to our latest episode of Thrive By Design: The Podcast for insight on the team effectiveness that helps drive organizational growth and prosperity.