Collaboration in the workplace not only increases the overall team productivity, but also establishes some meaningful experiences for your employees. Experience shows that if a person has a sense of meaning behind their work, they’re more likely to remain engaged and contribute to new ideas.
So, how do you create and maintain a collaborative spirit in the workplace? These simple tips can become a baseline for developing your own teamwork strategy and cementing good relationships within your team.
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#1 Create opportunities for teamwork
While you cannot force collaboration, you can certainly create the right conditions for it to begin and develop. The most obvious way to do this is to set up situations where the result depends on the joint effort of the team.
Ideas to brainstorm
Brainstorming is a powerful technique often used in design thinking at the ideation stage. This is when the team gets together and generates all sorts of ideas of how to resolve a particular problem.
Brainstorming always involves collaboration. First, you cannot brainstorm on your own, the whole point is to generate different ideas from different brains. Second, brainstorming has a culture of its own. For example, you are not supposed to criticize or reject anyone’s ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem. Third, a result of brainstorming is often someone’s idea tweaked and reshaped by the rest of the team.
Group training is not only a way to save time and resources while teaching several people at the same time. It is also an excellent opportunity for trainees to get to know each other better and start the habit of working together.
In almost any area, it is possible to design a group exercise. Depending on the size of your group, the trainers can either give a common assignment to all trainees or divide them into smaller teams with different tasks. The latter option can even bring the element of competition into the training.
Such activities develop collaborative culture, too. If, for example, a group needs to create a simple sales pitch or draw a graph solving a problem, they will have to listen to each other, suggest ideas, and make decisions together.
Collaboration between departments
Collaboration is much wider than mere cooperation. It’s more than just doing the duties – rather, it’s understanding the common mission and goal and sharing the same vision. Such relationships can also be cultivated as part of the collaborative culture. You can improve interdepartmental collaboration in the following ways:
- Keep them on the same page with regular product and marketing strategy updates.
- Introduce regular interdepartmental meetings to ensure their effort complement each other.
- Encourage feedback between departments.
- Enable easy communication.
- Acknowledge common successes.
#2 Work on the environment
Collaborative culture needs support from the environment. In addition to introducing various team-building activities and collaboration opportunities, provide the conditions and resources for people to work together, too.
Choose the right tools
Statistically, employees spend about 50% more time on collaboration activities today. By providing them with advanced tools, you can make their work much more efficient. Currently, the market offers a great choice of tools for collaboration:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Docs
These are the most popular tools that allow communication, document exchange, project management, and other tasks. You can also check out other tools to find the one that suits you best.
Offer relevant knowledge
Collaboration involves knowledge sharing. Within a company, the best way to share knowledge is via a knowledge base. When its articles are created, used, and updated by different people from the same or different teams, they contribute to building a useful resource that everyone can benefit from.
Such a knowledge base can become a valuable component of the company’s set of self-service tools that employees can use in their training, education, and everyday work.
#3 Choose leaders accordingly
Collaborative leadership is a great way of taking the team’s productivity to the next level. In this form of team collaboration, leaders work together with the team for a common goal. However, it takes the right leader to build such kind of relationship. In searching for a team leader, use your judgment or rely on HR services to assist you.
Empower employees to participate and reward it
To choose a leader that can improve collaboration, invite the team members to try the leader’s role. A person from within the team is already acquainted with all other members and knows their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, they can distribute roles and assign tasks more effectively.
Of course, team leadership should be rewarded accordingly, so that people do not lose their enthusiasm.
Proactivity is key
When choosing a team leader, look for proactive members who show initiative and resourcefulness. Such people can be counted on to anticipate a problem and get ready for it, rather than face its consequences.
With a proactive leader, the whole team assumes the same behavior, collaborating toward achieving the common goal. They are in complete control of the situation and make things instead of waiting for things to happen to them.
#4 Help your employers cement relationships behind work
A study showed that people who have a best friend at work are more satisfied with their place of employment than those who do not have one. Of course, not all people can make best friends in the office, but creating a friendly and relaxed working climate is a large step toward effective collaboration.
To ease the relationships and help people get to know each other, engage them in various team-building events. The scenarios are limited only by your imagination and your budget – from board games in the office after hours to outdoor quests. Such activities will help people build bonds that will have a positive effect on their work, too.
#5 Be a role model
If you are a manager and have employees under your supervision, you need to practice what you preach and engage in collaboration yourself. In practice, try to adopt the following behavior:
- Do not micromanage.
- Focus on collaboration rather than competition.
- Listen to your team members’ ideas and suggestions and offer yours.
- Show respect to your employees.
- Engage in team-building activities.
#6 Establish boundaries
In the context of team collaboration, boundaries describe the responsibilities each team member takes for their actions. Boundaries mean that nobody is expected to always accommodate others and agree to everything. Sometimes, it’s OK to say “no”.
Be transparent with your failures like you are with your successes
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan” – this approach is not going to contribute to building collaboration. If you failed, admit it and own it. Take responsibility for your failure and look for ways to rectify it.
When everyone on the team, from the leader to junior employees, assumes such a behavior, it will lead to higher trust and respect between team members and to a healthier overall culture.
Make every employee feel heard
Even in the best of teams, things happen. Conflicts, misunderstandings, clashing habits, competing ambitions – you know what we are talking about. It is extremely important to listen to people when they feel unhappy with something and try to resolve the situation so that no one feels disadvantaged.
A good leader should let everyone know that they can always come for advice or help. Everyone’s concerns should be heard, and the appropriate steps should be taken. This way, you will maintain a positive and productive atmosphere in the team.
#7 Gamify your workflow
By bringing gamification techniques into your workflows, you increase employee engagement and encourage healthy competition. As a result, the team’s dedication and involvement are higher, which, in turn, improves overall productivity.
The most common way to incentivize employees in a company is by points that the employees can use to purchase branded merchandise or time off. A good practice is to enable people to grant points to each other to recognize good collaboration.
With such a system of incentives, you encourage employees to pay more attention to their colleagues and become more involved in collaborative activities.
Add some competition
Healthy competition can contribute to building a collaborative culture. Here, the main aim is not the victory as such, but the process and the knowledge and skills everyone can obtain. The excitement of participation is often more important than the result.
There are many ways you can introduce competition in the workspace. For example, you can offer incentives for the highest results in a training test or for achieving the best first contact resolution rate in a customer support team. The key thing is to never use punishment, only incentives.
Many hands make light work and can turn even an impossible task into a series of doable processes. Even though building a collaborative team is a work in progress in itself, you can easily implement these practices in your office. And maybe the next big achievement will come from your team.