Collaboration is paramount to a successful business and yet, it can often feel like one of the more challenging aspects to truly attain. Collaboration is more than just setting meetings and meeting deadlines. True collaboration is people working well together because they want to. This happens when there is a shared vision and understanding of a common goal, along with mutual trust and respect.
We’ve put together a list of things you can implement in your company, to encourage cross-team collaboration, leading to happier employees, and a more streamlined workflow.
Focus on Culture
We could start to create a list of team collaboration tools and make a practical list of “tactics” but building collaborative workflows begins with a much deeper origin: company culture. You’ll be doing yourself, your employees – and ultimately, your customers – a favor if you have a look at the cultural dynamics within the organization.
Some key elements of a good collaboration culture include:
- A sense of community. When people feel valued, that their perspectives and contributions matter, and that they are truly a part of the bigger picture, they are more likely to be open to exchange ideas and ask for help when they need it. There’s a balance, of course – your company can’t function on brainstorming sessions and happy hours alone (though it is important to meet outside of the limitations of meetings to connect on a personal level to instill a sense of community).
Collect team members regularly to discuss tasks, ideas, and goals. To enable cross-team collaboration, invite people from other teams to join, share a space, and communicate face-to-face; it will give them a sense of how to work together.
Show that every voice is valued and allow everyone a chance to be heard. Younger, less senior team members have a valuable perspective, and it’s important to invite them into the conversation.
- Communication as a lifestyle. That may sound a bit up-in-the-sky, but let’s bring it down to earth: communication should be the bedrock of all within the company. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Communicating well is an ongoing commitment to learning and fine-tuning. By fostering an environment of open, honest, constructive communication and ongoing feedback, you will give your employees a sense of safety in expression. When you create a safe space for ongoing communication, for people to make mistakes and be wrong you will have more people – including those introverts who may find it especially challenging – willing to contribute freely.
- Culture is a top-down strategy. Not to start exploring the dynamics of “hierarchy” within the company, but it’s shown that culture throughout the workforce is influenced by every layer. The leadership team should be on board with the visions and values of company culture, and should embody these themselves. They should be a role model for how they would like their teams to collaborate by letting go of their ego, being communicative, consistent, and using a tone and language that supports collaboration.
- Take time to celebrate. You don’t have to take the company on a fancy holiday to celebrate every win, but it is important whenever your team celebrates success to emphasize the collaboration that made it possible. Appraisal metrics should be defined by both individual success and collaborative efforts, and find a way to reward and celebrate collaboration. Tools such as 15five are great for putting some of the power into the hands of the individual, for real-time praise and feedback as well as self-assessment reporting.
Consistency is Key
Being consistent helps to form streamlined workflows. When employees and teammates know there is a clear process, and why and how it works, it is easier for everyone to follow. When all teams clearly and consistently manage expectations, they will be on the same page and can rely upon one another. By setting reasonable expectations, everything runs more smoothly.
Communication shows up again in this article (we told you it’s important!) and this time, it’s about having regular communication through proper channels. Using tools such as Slack helps to ensure everyone knows how and where to communicate updates between teammates and other teams.
Holding regular face-to-face meetings ensures everyone knows when and where they can share their progress, questions, or bottlenecks. Ultimately, the more predictability there is in the check-ins and communication culture, the more collaborative individuals can be.
Depending on the nature of your business, having regular one-on-one meetings with management to provide feedback and give a more personalized space for sharing from employees can also help to support the broader aspects of working together. We recommend also having regular meetings amongst managers whose teams collaborate with one another, to provide high-level updates. Set these meetings, and keep them!
Teams that collaborate together are happier and more productive. Investing time and attention into creating a collaborative culture, means creating a safe space for constructive and consistent communication, and ensuring everyone has a clear shared vision of the common goal. This will increase productivity, lead to more satisfied customers and employees, and be a catalyst to business growth.
With these team collaboration best practices, we hope you’ll see that the onus is on the entire organization to create a thriving collaborative environment, because nothing worthwhile was ever achieved alone.