9 Ways to Increase Your Team’s Collaboration
Every business leader knows that collaboration keeps team members engaged and improves decision-making. Collaboration helps solve problems, foster innovation, and keep employees connected regardless of where they are working.
So why does efficient collaboration seem so elusive for so many companies?
Here are nine ways you can create a more collaborative environment.
Make Sure You Have the Right Tools in Place
No matter how strong your team is, if they don’t have the right tech tools in place to foster collaboration, it won’t work smoothly. This is especially important in today’s remote environment where employees are working at home or away from the office.
This goes beyond using platforms like Zoom or Slack to communicate with each other. For example, teams need agile cross-functional collaboration tools that integrate with their workflow rather than add additional platforms to monitor and manage.
The right project management software will create project roadmaps, drive workflow, track progress, and create a more efficient way for teams to stay in communication.
Communication is the key to collaboration. The harder it is for employees to communicate, find the information they need, and bounce between platforms, the more difficult collaboration will be.
Stop Relying on Spreadsheets and Calendars
Spreadsheets and calendars are important, but they shouldn’t form the basis of your workflow and collaboration process.
Spreadsheets take a lot of manual work and can easily be out of date. Employees never quite know if they are looking at the most updated version and one typo in a formula can wreak havoc across an organization.
It’s crucial to schedule meetings and tasks, but it only works if it’s integrated into your workflow seamlessly.
Create a Collaborative Culture
Collaboration and innovation rarely happen by accident. Employees in collaborative environments share ideas, problem-solve, and create more efficient ways to conduct business. However, you have to create a culture that values collaboration.
This means ensuring that collaboration happens regularly and is deliberate. In other words, collaboration is not something we do occasionally, it’s how we work every day. It is embedded in our workflow and an expected part of our job.
Business leaders need to create a collaborative culture by acknowledging that teams make better decisions together and that collaboration is the key to innovation.
Be an Active Participant
Building the culture means leaders don’t go it alone. If you want others to collaborate effectively, you will need to embrace the process, too. It can be humbling to admit you don’t have all the answers and challenging to listen to opposing viewpoints. When you do, however, it demonstrates to your team how much you value their input and collaboration.
Business leaders also need to use the collaboration tools they are asking their employees to use. For example, if you tell your team that everything has to happen within your project management software and then you bypass the system, it undermines the collaborative process.
Set Clear Objectives and Goals
Collaboration with direction can be chaos. Business leaders should set clear expectations for projects. It’s a leader’s job to set strategy, define objectives, and create milestones. It’s the job of managers and employees to execute that strategy to deliver the results intended.
If leaders don’t set clear objectives and goals, there can be a disconnect between what’s expected and what’s delivered. Collaboration should focus on how to get the job done most efficiently.
Along with setting goals and objectives, you also need to establish roles, responsibilities, and deliverables. Everyone on the team needs to know what’s expected of them and what they are responsible for doing.
Resist Micromanaging Projects
If teams work together to create solutions and they get shot down by the boss, it’s frustrating and demoralizing. Once teams are given the responsibility to deliver on a goal, they need some degree of autonomy. Otherwise, they will wait for managers to issue orders rather than collaborate to find independent solutions.
Resist the urge to micromanage the details and delegate how work gets done as much as possible. While managers retain the ultimate responsibility for the work, allowing your team to take an active role in the process builds trust and empowers collaborative teams.
Eliminate Information Silos
In many organizations, knowledge is power. Employees can hoard knowledge to make themselves more valuable. Departments can inadvertently capture important information and fail to share it with other functional areas of a company. Disparate software systems, databases, and third-party solutions can create organizational silos which make it difficult to share.
Truly collaborative teams have easy access to all the data and resources they need.
Make Collaboration Comfortable
Not everyone is comfortable speaking up in front of their peers or their boss. It takes some effort to get people comfortable with the process and understand the value of their contribution.
While we may roll our eyes at cringe-worthy team-building exercises, there’s a significant value in creating opportunities for social interactions that aren’t always focused on the task at hand. The more comfortable people are with your collaboration tools and see the value in the process, the more likely they are to be active participants. At the same time, when people are comfortable with each other, it relieves the pressure to perform and worry about what others will think.
Collaboration Should Include Wins and Losses
Many organizations use collaboration as a way to brainstorm or problem-solve. When there’s a positive result, they get together and celebrate. That’s great! However, it’s also important to analyze things when they haven’t delivered the results you expect.
When we don’t talk about what went wrong and how we can do better next time, we lose the opportunity to learn and grow. In many cases, the insights from failures lead to the biggest organizational growth.
This requires organizations to be open, honest, and transparent. Collaboration is about learning from each other.
Business leaders need to create a culture that rewards collaboration and fosters open and honest dialogue. A collaborative environment has a positive impact on problem-solving, decision making, productivity, customer satisfaction, and overall business performance.