After the collaborative professional team is formed, important questions arise such as: “What can we accomplish together?” “How can we best meet the needs of this divorcing family?” It is easier to answer these questions if team members focus on acknowledging, understanding, and honoring the abilities or aptitudes of others. The Johnson O’Connor foundation has studied human behavior and how individuals interact with others and have been a pioneer in the area of aptitude.
Aptitude is defined as a natural ability to do something or suitability and fitness. Aptitude has little to do with knowledge or interests. The understanding of these differing aptitudes are important factors in successful collaborative teams. These “aptitudes” might include: discernment, observation, knowledge, planning, detail oriented, etc... It is important to be a good steward of our aptitudes and acknowledge that we can be stretched as individuals when we appreciate the differences and strengths of others.
Collaborative teams are no different. The professional teams are composed of individuals with a range of differing ways of processing information, thinking, and acting. How can teams use individual “aptitudes” to develop and maintain successful professional teams and increase productivity?
- Focus on finding and exploring aptitudes of self and others
- A supportive atmosphere is best where members ask questions about other professional’s thought processes, ideas, or possible solutions
- You are able to minimize the frustration that comes when you feel someone is just being difficult. Do not assume other professionals think and process the way you do. Their behavior is an expression of their personality and aptitude.
- Varying aptitudes inform how professionals engage in the team process. Planners might be in charge of scheduling meetings and adhering to the Road Map to Resolution while a Coordinator may help the team and parties adhere to deadlines.
- Be humble and open to the ideas of others. Realize that due to varying aptitudes, another team member may have a better way of handling a particular task or problem than you.
- Be a great people watcher. Attune yourself to how the other professionals communicate, behave, or interact with others so that you can better understand their aptitude.
- Do not automatically correlate a professional’s job with their aptitude. There are attorneys who are excellent empaths and Mental Health Professionals who are talented numeric reasoners.
Teamwork is fostered when you understand and are able to deploy your strengths while appreciating and utilizing the aptitude of others. This leads to working together as a unified team, minimizing interpersonal difficulties while maximizing effectiveness.