Discover how to improve collaboration across your team, whether working from the same site or remotely via multiple locations.
It’s common sense that teams that work together will produce better results.
Researchers at Babson College and the Institute for Corporate Productivity set out to quantify the results.
What they found was revealing; While these companies described themselves as having a collaborative workforce, very few lived up to their claims.
The companies that did have a collaborative culture, however, showed remarkable gains. These truly collaborative companies were five times as likely to be high performers.
Companies that excel at collaboration create a culture that rewards teamwork. It starts by assembling the right cross-functional team members, getting them to buy into a common goal, and providing them with the right tools to collaborate and communicate.
Communication is at the core:
Cross-functional teams need to be in constant contact.
There need to be clearly defined tasks and an understanding of how these tasks add up to the whole.
This includes an easy way for team members to identify tasks, assignments, responsibilities, and deadlines.
Centralizing communication is crucial.
Teams must be able to find the information they need in one place, so they don’t have to hunt down information.
Establishing an official communication channel allows for information and document sharing and encourages collaboration.
Even in a collaborative environment, there needs to be someone in charge.
Designate a team leader or a single point of contact for teams.
Even agile teams that work in concert on projects across multiple disciplines have a project lead that manages the process to completion.
For teams to work collaboratively, they must have an underlying basis of trust.
This trust will only come as team members get to know each other and form relationships.
It helps to bring team members together.
Social events and informal gatherings can help.
For remote team members, conferencing and messaging apps can facilitate interaction.
Google is one of the world’s most valuable companies. It credits much of its success in building efficient teams.
Google researchers studied these teams to determine what led to success.
What they found was that what mattered was less about the members that got chosen for the team, but more about how the team worked together as a unit. What mattered most was trust.
The importance of trust also extends to the employee – management relationship, which is just as vital (arguably more so) as trust amongst team members.
Employees need to know that they will be heard and listened to.
Displaying trust, such as avoiding micromanaging, will allow team members to feel as though their hard work is getting recognized and that there isn’t always someone over their shoulder.
You could also consider doing some team-building exercises to help everyone feel like they know each other better and can help develop bonds of trust.
Using project management software:
These software solutions do just as the name suggests; they help you and your team manage all of their projects!
Most will allow you to create boards/lists for each project, create and manage teams, create subtasks, set due dates, easily see the status of each project or task and more.
Using a project management solution can improve your collaboration across the board and can help keep everyone on the same page.
Having clear goals:
One of the most critical steps in creating a collaborative environment is establishing clear goals.
Such goals go beyond stating desired outcomes.
It means breaking down the overall goal into its incremental steps and assigning tasks.
Setting such goals can be tricky. Not all tasks need collaboration.
In some cases, it may take individuals to complete specific tasks to move projects forward against a linear timetable.
Be clear about what tasks need collaboration and what tasks should get completed independently.
Sharing the work:
When employees are collaborating, it can be easy to check the boxes as tasks get completed.
Make sure team members are sharing their work.
Teams work better together when they understand the role each team member plays and how they contribute to the overall goal.
It is a good idea to come up with a system for how members are expected to share their work.
- Are they uploading it to the PM software?
- Are they reporting to their team lead?
- Was something they completed able to get an internal project moving?
- Do they know who to go to if so?
Sticking to the theme, keep your expectations and goals clear.
This can be used in many aspects of business, work-sharing included.
Tracking and measuring:
At the same time, teams must be able to track progress against established goals easily.
When goals and deadlines are published, team members will hold each other accountable for reaching common goals, mainly if they get laid out sequentially.
Tracking helps to isolate where projects get stalled.
Measuring helps to learn where and why a project is stuck and how to get it moving again.
This is another excellent argument for using a project management solution, as it is vital for everyone on the team to track a project’s progress and see where they can be the most productive.
It should not be left solely to the team lead.
Measuring results provide a clear understanding for team members of what is needed to achieve success.
It’s important to decide what it is getting measured and why it matters to the team’s success.
Businesses also want to ensure they are measuring accurately and take the time to break down to the team what they mean in terms that relate to what they’re doing.
Monitoring and measuring also allow teams to recognize and celebrate milestones, which is an essential step in the process of improving the team’s cross-collaboration.
It often gets underestimated just how important it is to recognize and take the time to celebrate team or individual milestones.
Not only does this allow managers to monitor teams and the kind of progress they are making, but it also permits team members to monitor the development as well.
Recognition from your peers for a job well done can be just as important as receiving a pat on the back from management.
Businesses can take it one step further and even provide incentives for a job done well.
While their best should always be expected of a team, a little extra appreciation can go a long way.
Consider a team party, a gift card to a nearby restaurant with an extended lunch break, a vacation day, or even an awesome un-designated office that serves as a reward for teams to strive for.
There are plenty of ways to go about this – it’s the recognition that matters most.
At the end of the day, a company wants their team to be as successful as possible.
Collaboration amongst them is one of the most significant components of their success, and it’s crucial to always encourage it.
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