Collaboration and teamwork have become a big topic lately for one simple reason: they really work. Successful cooperation and good relationships within a team are extremely important for an organisation as they directly influence the quality of work, employees’ morale and the end result. Many organisations claim that people thrive in an environment that fosters collaboration. That way, employees are more satisfied with their job and the clients are the ones that eventually reap the benefits.
In the past, all focus was on competition as it motivates workers to work faster and provides them with a healthy dose of adrenaline, giving them the edge they need to stay ahead of the game. But the issue with competition is that it stimulates individualism, which is opposite from collaboration. Now the focus has shifted from being the top gun in the industry to combining efforts, strengths and talents into one collective force to achieve exceptional results. When united, we stand stronger, and a well-functioning team can deliver much more than one individual.
However, implementing this approach doesn’t come without challenges and difficulties. Here are five ways how to foster team collaboration in the workplace.
Define company expectations
When all team members have a clear idea of company goals, the road to success much smoother, too. Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to company agenda so that they can invest their creative efforts in a synchronized manner. Therefore, it’s highly important to set SMART goals and expectations (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) as it leaves no room for interpretation and confusion. In addition, it’s necessary that each team member is informed about standards, expectations, clearly defined roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands that as a team, they are all held equally accountable for any outcome, be it success or failure.
Leading by example is the essence of true leadership. Great leaders do not only inspire but they also do the work, are hands-on, and interact personally with their employees. This is what makes employees feel as a part of the company. It’s also engaging and inspiring to know that high profile leaders care for more than just end profits.
Clear team goals
It’s obvious that clear team goals are essential for any successful team collaboration – when each team member understands what they will achieve and how valuable their contribution is within the organisation, they will be more likely to make the extra effort. But, it’s not all about setting clear and measurable goals. It’s not enough on its own. What is also very important is to re-evaluate and revise them on a regular basis and make them visible and transparent to everyone at any point. For example, you can regularly publish your quarterly goals, as well as the achieved results and outcomes for the previous period on the company website. It gives everyone insight and a better focus.
Team cohesion is one of the crucial factors in a successful collaboration as members of strongly cohesive groups are more willing to participate, push towards a common goal and stay within the group. Cohesion stems from the members’ commitment to working together to accomplish their collective tasks. They do not strive to independence but to interdependence and these bonds of unity are what makes a cohesive team.
Cohesion is fostered when all members of the team are equally included in the process, when they receive encouragement for mutual communication, cooperation and accomplishments. When this is achieved, time is not wasted, work is not duplicated but things run smoothly as everyone is on the same page, united and focused on the same goal.
One thing that can help this process is using employee engagement platforms. These platforms gather employees around the same vision and purpose, stimulate interpersonal relationship and encourage the workers to engage in collaborative activities.
Good workflow means that the work is done smoothly and efficiently. It’s necessary to create a unique set of guidelines, customized for the needs of each team, to help this process. Basically, it means combining all the above-mentioned strategies. With such a wide choice of tools, systems and tactics, it’s important to just keep it simple. There’s no need to make it complicated. Employees simply need a creative and nurturing atmosphere where they can fully express their potential. They need to feel engaged, free to make decisions and take control but it’s also crucial to enable them to communicate openly, get feedback and express any concerns they might have.
Every team is different and so is every workflow. For some teams, clear goals, expectations and deadlines are all it takes, while for others, a more personal touch and involvement could be the key component. For example, some companies insist on creating an open office space as it physically allows more interaction, which aids creativity and energy to flow better. Furthermore, many companies choose to rent shared office spaces, such as this serviced office in Sydney.
Each team member needs to be assigned tasks that correspond to their skill set and capabilities. A lot of companies create personality profiles. This way, you can get to know each worker better, as well as get insight about their preferred work styles, strengths and weaknesses. Such detailed knowledge about your staff will greatly help you assign the tasks accordingly. This is worth the time and effort since each person is an individual with different dynamics, skills and talents and finding out the best configuration will aid in problem-solving and decision-making processes.
Another essential component of successful teamwork is using an effective team collaboration tool. Nowadays, the choice is huge – emails, phone calls, conference calls, briefings, brainstorming meetings or any cloud-based tool. All this technology makes it easier to connect, communicate and reach out to one another when working on task solutions together.
Finding out the best collaboration policy for the team is only the beginning. It’s a process that takes time and effort but it must be purposeful and consistent. When there are clearly structured business goals, then everyone is aware of their roles, responsibilities, expectations and eventually, the bigger picture. This is an extremely empowering way to work, and empowered employees are the most productive ones.