Right now, more than ever, effective team collaboration is a key component of any successful business.
Under normal circumstances, 86% of employees and executives cite a lack of communication or collaboration for workplace failures.
Remember that this is under normal working conditions where everyone is in the same office. Just imagine how much poor team collaboration harms you company when everything is in disarray. Collaborating while working remotely can be difficult enough; maintaining effective team collaboration during a global pandemic seems nearly impossible.
Thankfully, we know a thing or two about helping companies facilitate employee cooperation. Here are several strategies you can use to get a jump-start on building and maintaining team collaboration.
Set Clear Goals
Here's a simple truth: People who set goals are more successful. Creating clear goals helps focus you, allows you to recognize if you're off track, and measure how effective your work is. Not having one can lead to a loss of motivation, a drop in quality, and stagnating growth. The same principle applies to working in a team but with magnified results. If each team member doesn't know their role and what they're working towards, they're not going to collaborate effectively. If even one person is unsure of what they're doing, their lagging performance can cause a ripple effect that brings down the quality of everyone's work. That's why it's important for you and your team to establish effective goals from the get-go. We recommend using SMART goals when creating goals.
- S - Specific: Is the goal direct, detailed, and meaningful?
- M - Measurable: Does the goal have trackable metrics?
- A - Attainable: Can you realistically achieve this goal?
- R - Relevant: Does the goal align with your company's mission?
- T - Time-Based: Does the goal have a defined deadline?
You and your team should be asking these questions every time you create a new goal for the team or a team member. This way everyone can stay focused and on track and team collaboration isn't negatively impacted.
Foster Open Communication
For many teams, social distancing has somewhat thrown a wrench in their communications. They are keenly feeling the loss of in-office, in-person interactions that they relied on. Some employees may worry about "overcommunicating" and annoying their teammates with a large number of emails, IMs, or calls. One thing we cannot stress is that there is no such thing as overworking - especially with so many companies barely keeping things together. Collaboration doesn't happen without communication. Your team needs to communicate as frequently as necessary to achieve your goals. For some teams that means a brief, weekly video conference to keep everyone updated, and for others that may be a daily, hour long call for coming up with new ideas.
Also, just because everyone is out of office, doesn't mean there isn't a space for socializing. It's still important for employees to have time to talk about non-work-related topics. We recommend taking the time to schedule a periodic "coffee break" or some other kind of meeting to touch base with your team to see how they're doing. Provide a space where they can decompress and focus on topics other than work and the ongoing global pandemic.
Team collaboration is a fantastic source for creativity and innovation. However, the inverse is also true in that creativity is one of the best ways to foster collaboration. The most successful teams have fostered an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable coming forward with their ideas and commenting on others. Be supportive of frequent contributors, but also solicit thoughts from those who may not speak up as often. Make sure that everyone feels that they have a voice and that everyone on the team takes them seriously. It may take some time to coax them out, but investing that time goes a long way toward building team collaboration.
Part of encouraging creativity is creating a space for it. Brainstorming sessions are a great place for everyone on your team to come together and collaborate on new ideas. We recommend taking time every so often to sit your team down to solicit feedback from them. This can include what they feel works, what they feel doesn't, and what ideas they may have to improve on your direction. Ask everyone what they think about these to really democratize the creative process. Doing so can really bring out the most innovation possible from your team.
Recognize Successful Teamwork
Your team wants to know that they're doing a good enough job. If you see that you've built the kind of team collaboration you're looking for, make sure to recognize it. Encouraging the behavior you want to see is a key step in making it permanent. Some easy times to do this are when your team comes up with new ideas, achieves goals, or sees some other success. Whichever of these comes up, make sure to be specific in your recognition. Further, encourage the same behavior from other members of your team. By fostering an atmosphere of support and praise, you can develop better team collaboration.
One thing to note is that praise should be varied between collective and individual recognition. While the success of the team comes from everyone, note each person's contribution and how it led to different aspects of your success. Your goal is to make everyone feel valued and as if their work was impactful. The more you can make them feel that their work is meaningful, the more you can inspire them to work harder and improve team collaboration.
Use the Right Tools
In every situation, you need to make sure that you are using the right tools for the job. That's especially important right now when many companies don't have the best tools for remote working. No one is sure how long it is until we have to return back to the office. We may all be relying on the digital workspaces that we create now for the forseeable future. For that reason, you should look into providing your team with tools that can help facilitate collaboration. Right now, we recommend prioritizing tools that focus on strengthening communication, improving document sharing, and allow for easy calendar collaboration. There are plenty of free and paid solutions that can be a great fit for your company's situation.
Even after the outbreak ends and we can all return back to the office, it pays to invest in these kinds of tools. Changing workplace demographics are leading to increased demands for a flexible workplace. 80% of companies have switched over to using tools that allow them to build a digital workspace. You risk your company's collaboration falling behind if you don't look into making the switch.
Fostering team collaboration is important to your company's success. With the economy in the fragile position its in, your business needs to be doing everything it can to stay successful. By fostering team collaboration, you can build a productive team that is able to weather the coronavirus outbreak. Use the strategies above to get started building your team's collaboration today.
Written by Quentin Russell
Quentin Russell is a Content Specialist with knowledge of Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.