A group of young adults working together and viewing a computer screen. Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Are you interested in upping your teamwork game?

Whether you’re just entering the workforce or a student diving into group work at school or college, these strategies will empower your group members to collaborate and overcome challenges.

Collaborative Problem Solving

Hands putting puzzle pieces together.

What is it?

Collaborative problem-solving happens when a group of people work with each other to share information and ideas and gain insights into others’ perspectives. The purpose is to build on and value the ideas shared by group members to achieve a common goal.

Flaticon Icon Why is it important?

Collaborative problem-solving builds trust in a group. It also adds a level of commitment between group members, with everyone coming together to take ownership of the situation and find a creative solution.

This may sound easy, but getting others on board may be tricky! These four strategies are sure to help you and your team solve problems together in no time!

1. Establish Clear Goals and Rules

The cast of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia asking,

Setting clear goals and rules immediately will help your team run smoothly and effectively, minimizing conflict, confusion, and frustration.

  • Pinpoint the problem you're tackling. Define how success will be measured and recognized.

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  • Assign roles and responsibilities for each team member so everyone knows the expectations and feels accountable.

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  • Communication is important! Decide when, where, and how often communication will happen to keep everyone on the same page.

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Addressing these areas will set your team up for success.

2. Create a Supportive Environment

A group of people with their arms around each other's shoulders. Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

Build trust, respect, and open communication.

Creating a strong community will encourage group members to lean on each other's strengths and ideas. This will create an environment where diverse perspectives are valued and members feel safe to share their opinions and possible solutions.

Flaticon Icon Patience

Group members need to have patience! Solutions may take time to develop. Multiple meetings may be necessary before a solution is found. Leading by example and practicing mindfulness and stress-relieving techniques will create a calm and supportive team culture.

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Ensure your team has what they need to solve the problem. This might include written guidelines or certain types of technology.

Flaticon Icon Empathy and Active Listening

Team members must feel heard and understood to create a collaborative culture. Putting yourself in other's shoes and listening to their perspectives will encourage your team to find effective solutions.

Check out this Byte for active listening strategies. 👈

3. Choose Activities that Fit Your Goals and Audience

A cartoon showing a group of people collaborating and coming up with a shared idea.

Get creative with how to collaborate about a problem! What strategy you choose depends on your purpose, situation, and audience. Some examples may include:

Flaticon Icon Brainstorming

This allows people to think about and contribute ideas more freely. It also encourages others to hold back judgment and provides space for a wide range of possible solutions to be shared.

Flaticon Icon Mind Mapping

Mind maps provide a visual way to map out possible solutions to a problem. It helps make connections between situations and ideas.

Flaticon Icon Role Playing

Allows team members to gain different perspectives on the problem. It also helps gain empathy and understanding of the problem.

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Allows groups to use realistic scenarios to understand the problem and determine a solution in a safe and judgment-free environment.

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Promote a fun and relaxed way to solve problems using clues and riddles using teamwork.

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Provide more of a general team-building activity to encourage collaboration and problem-solving.

4. Celebrate Successes and Manage Setbacks

A soccer team congratulating each other.

Celebrating successes and failures provides opportunities to learn, grow, and improve and helps build a team atmosphere.

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  • Helps lighten the mood

  • Boosts morale and motivation

  • Makes people feel appreciated

Flaticon Icon Managing Setbacks

  • Helps develop a growth mindset

  • Gives people a chance to reflect and reset

  • Allows team to build on each other's areas of growth

Overall, it reinforces the value of teamwork and encourages the group to overcome setbacks.

Quiz: Doug and Sarah's Team Disagreement

Two people arguing in an office. Another person between them yells,

During a team meeting, there is a disagreement about the best way to handle an issue. Sarah wants to avoid drastic changes and stick to familiar methods, but Doug wants to think outside the box and try new ideas. How should the team proceed?

A. Follow the conservative approach to be on the safe side.

B. Move ahead with the creative solution so a quick decision can be made.

C. Discuss the pros and cons of both perspectives, allowing team members to share their opinions.

D. Decide to put off the decision until a later date.


How should the team proceed?


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