The Business Directory defines Team Collaboration as “the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.”
Whether it’s a company-wide team effort or a small 5 person group, the reason you’re collaborating is to get something done. Collaboration is mobilising people to accomplish something which each team member will leave their mark on. The purpose is to create something that exceeds the sum of its parts.
Today, team collaboration is used by project managers to resolve problems and achieve goals.
Below are a few benefits of team https://www.inc.com/comcast/five-collaboration-tools.htmlboration, challenges that a team will face and a comprehensive list of ways to improve team collaboration in the workplace.
The Benefits of Team Collaboration
A great benefit of team collaboration is a flatter hierarchy. A flatter management structure can ensure streamlined communication between management and team members.
Decision making has shorter to travel, so decisions can be implemented more quickly. Increased involvement by team members in appraising their own work as well as having a closer tie to the decision-making process.
It encourages multidisciplinary work, allowing colleagues from different departments to learn from each other—lending their skills to projects that they would otherwise not be able to work on and diversify their expertise.
Project management collaboration grants flexibility when working with a team. Each team member can help if another is falling behind and share the workload for a while. As well as being accountable to themselves, their team and the management, creating the space where team members can complete their work at their own pace while still meeting deadlines can reap rewards for the morale of the team.
Team collaboration cultivates an esprit de corps that contributes to the overall morale of the team– filling members with confidence to complete the task. The team will recognise that they’re all working together for the benefit of the team, developing a bond with the project and their fellow members.
Sebastien Boyer on Nutcache outlines some benefits of team collaboration, including the pooling of talents and strengths.Assigning work to members on the basis of their talents and skills will ensure that the work will be done to a high standard.
Team members working on what they want to, rather than what they’re assigned. Having a mix of talents and strengths can help in finding new solutions to problems.
Promoting self-analysis lets team members take ownership of their work and the standard of it. It allows members to identify any gaps in their knowledge as well as being able to track their own progress and set personal goals.
Team Collaboration Challenges
When working collectively you’ll encounter some roadblocks. Being able to identify and address them before they become problematic will maintain a smooth dynamic within the team.
A challenge that is usually apparent from the beginning is a lack of team identity and goal. A lack of identity can lead to an absence of commitment and effort between the main pillars of the team—its members.
97% agreed that a “lack of alignment within a team directly impacts on the outcome of a task or project.”
Ensuring that a clear goal that everyone understands is established at the outset gives colleagues something to work towards.
Often a problem in making and sticking to decisions can lead to obstructions when working as a team.
When a decision can not be made, be it lack of leadership or lack of core goals, then the team can inadvertently go in a circle and get no closer to their objectives.
Guidance from senior management should be sought immediately or else people will start pulling in different directions.
A lack of clear communication can cause the project to stumble. Articulating clear instructions, fresh ideas or encouraging listening with your team isn’t as easy as it sounds.
A recent study found that 96% of people asked credited “lack of collaboration and communication” to workplace failures.
Egos, bad attitudes and lack of respect can make trying to communicate with your dream team into a nightmare.
Usually having one central place to communicate where messages, discussions and comments are shared leaves little room for
the ‘I didn’t get that email’ excuse.
When an issue arises, how conflict is dealt with can be the make or break of the team. It’s fairly certain that when a group of people begin working together they’ll not see eye to eye 100% of the time. If a rift begins within a team it can quickly turn into a schism– Sharing responsibility and work will be near impossible.
Have a read of Chris’ article on tips for creating a positive workplace environment.
Getting a conflict resolved by allowing everyone to have a hand in the decision making process and bargaining between the team will wield results for everyone.
On a long campaign of team collaboration, a lethargy can set in. Some teammates will start to slack off and the deadlines set for your goal will get pushed further back. A team will need some inspiration to get them back to their innovative and hardworking ways.
Don’t be afraid to spice up a working project, allow colleagues to see what other team members are working on and remind them of how that contributes to reaching the goal– the interest of the project and the team is paramount.
A lack of creativity can hinder the collaboration in its crucial stages. When the team sets in and gets used to a way of working, it can become comfortable.
That can be a good thing but also very dangerous for the productivity of your team. Fresh ideas are what keeps the team motivated and producing their best work.
Encouraging out of the box ideas and inspiration from other parts of the organisation can embolden diversity.
Following on from lack of creativity, it can be fatal if a ‘Groupthink’ mentality develops. Forbes in their article 10 Effects Of Groupthink And How To Avoid Them, defines groupthink as “when a team or organization become so similar in their outlook that they lose the ability to be creative in their decision making.”
This can lead to ideas outside of the agreed thinking parameters absent from the fore and entrenched perspectives not being challenged
Ways to Improve Team Collaboration in the Workplace
Ensure the Right Leadership is in Place
A leader’s role is to make sure that the team receives maximum benefit from the skill base that they’ve gathered, that means having the right people in the right roles. Having the right leaders in place will get the best out of the team.
The team must have a leader that is approachable, fair and not afraid to take hard decisions for the benefit of the project and team.
Build Trust and Dependability Among Your Team
Let them know that their work is valued and trust them to fulfil it to the best of their ability. Encourage that the team can only function if they do their bit for the team and that they are responsible for its success.
Set Aside Social Time so Your Team Can Get to Know Each Other
Sometimes a team will be drawn from different parts of an organisation and even different parts of the world.
Letting your team get to know how other members think and tackle problems away from the office can add to their performance when it comes to working on their goal. Some colleagues may have their guard up in the workplace. Encouraging them to participate in a social setting can hearten them to share their opinions when collaborating with your team.
Work on Opening up Communication Channels
A team can’t operate effectively if the communication isn’t up to scratch, so the ability to constantly communicate between members of the team and management gets rid of any opportunity to misunderstand.
Clear communication allows ideas, opinions and concerns to flow within the team all the way to management, and back again. Less time waiting on a response from a team leader means more time being able to work on the goal.
Have Defined Roles and Goals
People work better together when they know what they have to do.
Assigning roles to members with the complementary skills for the task will ensure that the work gets done by the best people. Knowing what the end product of their hard work will be achieved in the end.
Having a clear, concise goal allows the team to keep their eye on the ball and know what they’re working towards. Keep the goals achievable and allow everyone an opportunity to contribute to the goal-setting process.
Set a Plan
A team can’t work without a solid plan to follow, so setting out a process on how to work allows members to follow it.
Make sure to include as wide a range of disciplines and team members as possible so the plan can be workable for everyone involved.
Keep the goal at the top of your plan, set milestones to track how the project is progressing, appraise at intervals and allow team members to set their own mini goals on how to reach the main project goal.
Recognise Good Work
When colleagues know that their work is valued by their peers and management then they will give their best.
Recognition of good work will inspire teams to produce more positive work on the project.
Encourage team members to assist in decision making.
Allowing a team to contribute on the direction of their work, the number of resources to attribute to the task and where to go next encourages ownership of the project within the team.
It also facilitates in allowing every member of the team to have their voice heard.
Meet Only When Necessary
Meetings can get in the way of good work, so try to meet when it is absolutely essential to do so. If it can be said by a group message to your team then do it!
Modern technology allows us to communicate with our team and circulate work without being in the same room, so unless you have to physically be there then meetings can be a last resort.
Be sure to let your team know the standard of their work at intervals to keep them motivated and on the right track.
Feedback acts as a barometer to the standard that they need to achieve and what is expected of them.
Whether positive or constructive, there can rarely be a negative outcome to regular feedback– only better work.
The Right Mix of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Satisfaction
Team member’s needs have to be met. Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen in their article Secrets of Great Teamwork in the Harvard Business Review that
“people have to care about achieving a goal, whether because they stand to gain extrinsic rewards, like recognition, pay, and promotions; or intrinsic rewards, such as satisfaction and a sense of meaning.”
Having the right mix for your team will ensure that they’ll give their all for the realisation of the project.
Openness and Transparency
If a team believes that they are aware of their goals, challenges and any issues on how to get the task completed without feeling that they are being confined to ‘their box,’ then they will feel that the project is working in their favour and nothing is being withheld from them.
40% of those interviewed believed those in decision-making positions ‘consistently failed’ to seek another opinion and just below half of those consulted said that their organisation discusses truthfully and effectively.
Understanding the Social Styles of the Team
Some people will prefer to be out in front, presenting their work to a room full of shareholders. Others will prefer to be on their own, sifting through vital data for the benefit of the team.
Understanding what people enjoy doing and what best suits their working styles is the balance you have to strike within your team.
If everyone is working in a way which suits them then it’s win-win for all involved.
Sharing Credit When Appropriate
There’s no I in Team, but it’s only proper that people are credited for their hard work for the benefit of the team. Praise and acknowledgement for outstanding work from management or colleagues allows team members to feel that their stamp is well and truly on the team’s efforts.
Embracing Modern Technologies
We live in an era of a digital workplace. This means that from anywhere in the world you can cooperate with the rest of your team.
You can work together online, attend meetings through a video call and share ideas through project management software.
Taking advantage of modern tech empowers your team to collaborate with people all over the world. Having an online network where team members can share ideas, files, chat and let other team members see their work enables the team to identify what work has been completed and what is left to do. (It also allows management to keep an eye on the activity of the remote working employees!)
Starting out with a new team? Have a look at our 16 Must-Haves for Successful Team Collaboration
Team Collaboration Software and Tools
Jeff Hayden in his article about collaboration tools outlines that project management tools are great for managing deadlines and sharing responsibilities. Collaboration tools offer shared file storage and instant messaging in a virtual workspace that everyone on the team can access– anywhere in thr world.
These improved tools can bring team members together no matter how spread out in the real world, so everyone knows what everyone else is doing with scheduling, communications, file management and coordination features in a single dashboard.
Tameday has everything in one place so there’s no need to check different apps to stay up-to-date. You can set up teams and projects to share details, assign tasks and add deadlines when working with your team.
To communicate with your team you can private chat and group chat. You can assign work, open discussions, share files and set up events for your team. There’s a dashboard to clearly see your notifications and work, with clear accountability for everyone to see who’s working on what and when it’s due.
Everything is on the record! There’s a timeline of activity across your company and projects so it’s super easy to get caught up on things.
Dropbox is easy to use, syncs your files throughout all devices and is free! It can be used in team collaboration with very little training required.
You can share files between your colleagues and access it from anywhere in the world.
Dropbox securely backs up your files and stores deleted items for 30 days before deleting for good. It also automatically updates once a file is saved.
Skype allows you to video link with your colleagues wherever they are in the world and is compatible with every platform and operating system.
Video calling allows you to hold meetings with colleagues and clients who could be in different parts of the world on whichever medium they choose- Whether they’re sitting at a desktop or on the move on a mobile device.
- How a team collaborates can be the make or break of a project. From the setting of the goal to the way they communicate with each other, there are benefits and challenges along the way which can test the most capable team leaders and really bring out the best in team members.
- Sharing responsibilities and assisting each other contributes to a greater goal that the team set out to achieve.
- Make sure that everyone understands the plan and, when morale gets low, don’t be afraid to give out a bit of encouragement– we’re all in this together!
- Promote diversity, make sure communication is clear and give credit when it’s due.
- Setting an achievable goal, having a good plan, building trust among the team and using project management technologies to your advantage can reap rewards when it comes to reaching your target.