Meaningful Millennials: On Collaboration and Teamwork

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This is the fifth installment of “Meaningful Millennials,” our ongoing series where we interview millennials on a variety of different subjects that are top of mind for us in the studio.

At Emotive Brand, we believe that successful collaboration and teamwork in the workplace are not only key to business success, but to building an overall meaningful, sustainable, and inspiring work environment. At EB, internally, we rely on teamwork for creativity, innovation, and alignment. We strive to build and foster successful team environments with all of our clients. So we understand how difficult building the perfect team really is. In a recent blog post we asked: Is it even possible?

Emotive Brand has always believed that the success of collaboration hinges on empathy and an understanding of emotions, otherwise known as emotional intelligence. In short, feelings do matter. And it’s important for everyone in the workplace to feel like they can share those feelings, opinions, and thoughts within an environment that they consider safe.

Since we think about this a lot, we wanted to know what millennials had to say on the subject. As a millennial myself, I asked other millennials about collaboration and teamwork in the workplace. What do they think is key to successful team building? Why is collaboration of such high value in the workplace?

I heard eleven millennials opinions and here’s what I learned.

Millennials believe that successful teams strive for the perfect balance: a sense of openness to new ideas, people, and experiences, coupled by a recognition that everyone is an individual with different values, beliefs, experiences, and boundaries. Empathy and trust are key to finding this balance, as is a willingness to communicate freely within the workplace. Millennials look at building teams, when done right, as ways to grow, widen perspectives, and foster creativity and innovation. They see collaboration as key to any thriving business, but even simpler, to fostering individual happiness and social satisfaction.

Read more about what these eleven millennials had to say…

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When working with a new team, I’ve found that it’s important to spend as much time understanding your co-workers as it is understanding the tasks required of you. Especially when making a documentary, teamwork is vital. In production, everyone must do their best work, or the footage/sound might be unusable. The stakes are high. In an efficient team, everyone must understand the way their co-workers function. Every team-member must anticipate the other’s next move so that everyone is moving in the same direction, at the same speed. Making sure your coworkers are happy always makes for a smoother day, and ultimately a better finished product. And I’m sure this applies to many other types of work environments as well.

In any creative environment, collaboration is incredibly valuable. Everyone is coming from a different background, bringing a different perspective. Taking the best material from all those involved usually results in a more interesting final product. When we hear other people’s thoughts, our own minds are pushed to new places, and that is where creativity is born. I’m lucky to have worked in environments in which my bosses and high-ups have allowed me to have a voice, even as a young, new professional. It has made work much more exciting!

Natalie Ancona, Co-Producer, Breaking Points

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To me, collaboration is one of the most important things in a workplace. An open environment where people are encouraged to share and discuss ideas, as well as ask for help when they need it, is key. A workplace that values teamwork means that employees are there to support and learn from each other, not compete or cut each other down. I believe successful teamwork also allows for the best ideas to thrive, because everyone has a stake in them. In addition, positive social interaction is so much more key than we often give it credit for — when a workplace is collaborative it’s that much more enjoyable, leading not just to happier employees, but better quality work as well.”

Surya Tubach, Student, La Sorbonne

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I think successful collaboration hinges on a willingness and openness to new perspectives. A good team is composed of people who all learn from one another everyday. They support and encourage everyone and don’t compete or place people in boxes. Any workplace that wants to move forward and progress needs to be ready for new perspectives and ways of thinking, seeing, and feeling.

Evan Hazelett, Ugly Produce Enthusiast, Imperfect

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“I think communication and open mindedness are key to successful collaboration. I think you need to be able to feel comfortable with voicing your opinion as well. Social safety is key. If people feel safe in their work environment, it encourages and fosters successful conversations, ideas, and innovation.”

Morrell Frankel, Assistant Account Executive at FCB Health

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“I think a number of things come into play when considering what makes collaborative work successful, but one of the most important factors, in my opinion, is a shared passion in the project and an equal commitment and dedication to the work between collaborators. And effective communication is key.

Collaborative work allows for a unique kind of connection between individuals and relationship building that is invaluable and extends beyond the workplace. I think developing a community within the work environment enhances the work that everyone does. In my experience, creative collaboration has allowed me to bring certain skills or strengths to the table while benefiting from the skills of other that I may lack, and there’s something really special about that shared learning. It’s a great way to get to know people and their passions in a unique way, and to feed off of the excitement and creative energy of those around you.”

Sophie Pelligrini, Freelance Photographer

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At the risk of sounding cliché, I believe fostering trust is the most important component of building a successful team. Specifically, trust allows for the effective delegation of tasks, open and honest lines of communication, and an increase in the moral and enhanced camaraderie between teammates. Teamwork and collaboration, whether in the workplace or across any walk of life is valuable not only on a day-to-day basis, but is critical in creating a sustainable, long lasting model of success. Nurturing a collaborative, trusting culture ensures that a business doesn’t lives and die with the individual but is preserved over time by a multitude of individuals working together.

Ben Foote, Psychology Lab Researcher, Columbia

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“The key to successful collaboration in the workplace is having both an open mind and a resilient personality. It’s important to have an open mind because each person you are collaborating with has different life experiences and brings something new to the table. Their ideas might be different than yours, but different can be a good thing and often advances a workplace forward. Having a resilient personality is key because standing your ground on issues or ideas that are important to you is important as well. You have to stay true to your values. It’s a delicate balance. Collaboration is so important because it’s not just about the success of the office or company…if you can’t work well with others, you’ll flounder no matter your job.”

Erin Leigh, Physical Therapist Student, Western University

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“In my experience, the key to good collaboration is selflessnees, by which I mean the ability to let go of ideas that you’re attached to simply because they’re yours. Collaboration doesn’t work if you come to the table with some entrenched viewpoint, and there’s always more than one way to solve a problem.”

Zach Goldberg, Theatre Educator at the Bay Area Children’s Theatre

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The key is empathy and patience. Success in a group at work, to me, requires that everyone adds individual value to the group in some way. My experience has been that groups don’t function lack that when they lack all-round empathy and patience. Everyone shows what they have to offer when they feel that the group is patient and willing open up to a new perspective. When this happens, the whole group benefits.

Collaboration is important because it brings multiple perspectives and strengths to the table. No matter how one smart or capable an individual is, an extra set of eyes always helps.

Ciaran Walsh, professional actor and ESL teacher

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“I think the key to any successful collaboration and teamwork is openness and empathy, the ability or willingness to accommodate where needed. In a workplace, collaboration allows for the spread of new ideas, new discoveries. Because everyone comes from a different place, and each place represents a whole swath of cultural experience, narrative, and history. The process of brainstorming — investing models and business plans, developing curriculum and organizational goals, designing text and images in combination — alone can be discouraging, even for the most creative. It requires an understanding of the whole. When we are able to express these thoughts aloud, put them into conversation and allow them to change, they expand necessarily. When there is collaboration in the workplace, there is almost endless opportunity to create something everyone can learn from (if you’re lucky, also love) and completely digest.”

Lydia Chodosh, Student, Macalaster College

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In the bustling 15 bed emergency room in the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in the heart of Cincinnati, Ohio, teamwork and collaboration are key. Where would we be without these two concepts? Nowhere. Our main goal is to provide the people that have served for our country with the exceptional emergency care that they deserve while treating them with the upmost respect and dignity. To do so, we must keep the patient at the forefront of it all — thinking and acting with the patient’s wellbeing as our absolute number one priority. Whether they are x-rayed by a technician, seen by a doctor, or triaged by a nurse, they need to be cared for with one mutual goal in mind — one we all share and strive for as a team. Without our hospital-wide goal of patient-centered-care and collaboration among disciplines, we would not be as successful as we are. Every person involved must play their part, carry out their designated role, and most of all, communicate effectively to do so.

Sydney Gatta, nurse, Veteran Affairs Medical Center

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“I think that humility, and a willingness to communicate that humility, are key to successful collaboration and teamwork in the workplace. For example, I am a Biology teacher at a district school in South Central LA, and this is my first year on the job. I decided that I wanted my students to complete a lab, but I was not sure how long the lab would take or how best to organize the students so they would work efficiently. I decided to ask one of my colleagues for advice, another Biology teacher, and she immediately provided me with laminated sheets with instructions, a lab guide I could make copies of, and some general guidelines for how best to structure the lab. Basically everything I needed, and then some, because her instructions also came in English and Spanish. I was able to run a successful lab, and I hardly lost any instructional time trying to work out the details of the lab because my colleague gave advice on how best to plan for this lesson. Ultimately, the students were able to enjoy a well-designed lab that allowed them to explore cell division at their own pace, and I would have had a much more difficult time creating this experience for them if I had not been humble enough to simply ask for help.”

Sesa Bakenra-Tikande, Biology Teacher

Here are our top-line findings from these millennials.

  1. Millennials believe successful collaboration fosters creativity, happiness, positive social feelings, and higher quality work.
  2. Having an open mind is something millennials consider key to effective teamwork. Flexibility and the willingness to listen and see new perspectives are valued because millennials belief openness is important for personal growth and moving any team forward.
  3. Empathy is necessary in any team environment, and often works hand in hand with openness. Cultivating the emotional intelligence needed to understand and feel for others build team environments that feel safe and inclusive.
  4. Being aligned as a team and happy within one is integral to any business or brand that wants to thrive. Millennials know a workplace is only as strong as its people, and collaboration allows any team to be stronger and more impactful than the sum of its parts (its people).

Next month, we will continue our “Meaningful Millennial” series. Keep posted for what’s next, and if you are interested in contribution to the discussion, email sajac@emotivebrand.com.

Originally published at www.emotivebrand.com on April 12, 2016.

Emotive Brand is a strategy and design firm: We work with executives to drive growth in revenue, brand, and culture #b2b #tech #b2c #product #growth #branding

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