Effective team collaboration has many benefits, from improved productivity to a more positive work environment, yet achieving optimal collaboration is often easier said than done. Factors like remote team members working in different time zones, different backgrounds and cultural values, and different skillsets or goals can all hinder collaboration and make it more challenging to achieve business objectives.
That’s not to say that effective team collaboration is out of reach; it just takes intentional effort to achieve it. An understanding of employees’ needs is a good starting point. Implementing tools like workforce analytics can enable leaders to not only better understand employees’ needs but also monitor employee engagement and collaboration to inform data-driven decision-making. But what else can team leaders and managers do to enhance collaboration among their teams? To learn more about how today’s business leaders are fostering better collaboration, we reached out to a panel of team leaders and business managers and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s the #1 strategy to improve team collaboration in the workplace?”
Meet Our Panel of Team Leaders and Business Managers:
Read on to learn what our panel had to say about the top strategies you can implement to improve team collaboration in the workplace.
Justin Brown is the co-founder and CEO of Ideapod, a social network collecting and amplifying ideas that matter. He is currently helping millions of monthly readers to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.
“The best way to improve team collaboration is to proactively create an inclusive and appreciative work environment…”
At Ideapod, I consciously strive to make team members aware of my gratitude and respect for the work they do and my positive opinion of their contributions to our organization.
When team members feel valued and included they are also comfortable opening up more and communicating more fully which is a win-win for me on the management side, as I receive detailed feedback and enjoy clear communication.
Rolf Bax is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Resume.io.
“Getting people to collaborate better in the workplace is usually achieved two ways…”
By making people more familiar with their coworkers’ professional experience and acumen and by incentivizing team efforts by providing team-based rewards.
The research shows that employees are more willing to collaborate and work together when they have faith in their colleagues’ skills and expertise. This is usually built over time but can be difficult to achieve with new hires. One thing that works for us is connecting new employees with their team-to-be via LinkedIn prior to starting, as well as passing out their resume to their coworkers so that the latter have a better idea of how a new team member’s skills and experience can be leveraged.
If you want people to work together as a team, incentivize it by rewarding team effort. If you create a culture of individualism and glory hogging, then this is what you will get. If, on the other hand, employees know that the group outcome and group targets are in their best interests, either financially or reputationally, then they are going to be much more inclined to help pick up slack when needed, assist coworkers who are struggling or overburdened, and subject their ideas to constructive criticism and improvement from colleagues.
Henry O’Loughlin is the Director of Operations for Nectafy, a fully remote content agency, and the founder of Buildremote, a remote operations consulting company.
“Plan specific non-work discussions…”
If you want to improve team collaboration in the workplace, you need to build in time for people to get to know each other personally. This is especially crucial in fully remote teams where organic water cooler talk may not happen. Have one team meeting per week that doesn’t have anything specifically planned about the business. You could do ice breakers or simply talk about what everyone did over the weekend. By building these into your weekly processes, people will get to know each other more and then be more likely to collaborate on work projects.
Doug Noll is a lawyer and professional mediator with decades of experience in managing and resolving conflicts of all types. He’s written four books and many articles on the subjects of peacemaking, conflict management, de-escalation, and mediation.
“Create psychological safety for your team…”
Google did a massive study of its internal teams and concluded that teams with psychological safety outperformed all other teams across the board because they were intensely collaborative. Of course, this begs the question of how to create psychological safety. Creating psychological safety is one of the three primary functions of leadership. The other two functions are to provide focus and direction.
Melissa Drake is the author of TranscenDANCE: Lessons From Living, Loving, and Dancing, a book that details her recovery from depression through dance. She’s also a TEDx Speaker with 25 years of corporate experience. Her TEDx Talk, The Dance of Collaboration, presents fresh insights on the benefits of collectively beneficial collaborations. As the founder of Uncorped Influence, Melissa helps like-minded businesses and individuals find solutions and go further than they thought possible.
“Allow team members to be human – and show up as the brilliant individuals they are…”
Create space for their weird quirks, crazy ideas, and out-of-the-box theories. Often, in professional environments, there are certain mores and professional standards that prevent people from speaking up and fully expressing themselves. Rather than valuing people and their unique idiosyncrasies, employees are often directly or indirectly encouraged to be less of themselves in order to collaborate and join the team. However, when we accept people as they are and enable them to form intimate and friendly connections, they’re happier and more likely to collaborate in a way that’s collectively beneficial.
Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of global marketing and branding firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, and venture-backed startups as well as non-profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Paige is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.
“I try to set the tone upfront with one rule: when in doubt, over-communicate…”
Especially now that everyone is working remotely, it is key to set up regular emails, video, and conference calls to keep the team connected and in sync. If the lines of communication are open and everyone makes an effort to listen and be heard, then collaboration will happen naturally and the information will flow. At the beginning of the project, do not make assumptions of what people from different groups want or know; just ask or send an e-mail. It will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration down the road. Trust me. This comes from experience.
Be a good listener and make sure you hear the others, their hopes, frustrations, and intentions. Whether you are B2B or B2C, every business is P2P, and connecting on a personal level is what matters most. Successful businesses understand their product or service is about more than the transaction; they are in the relationship business. People connect with brands they know, like, and trust, and employees may switch jobs. But if they have a great experience and relationship with your brand, you can keep them by staying in communication. Show them they are respected, loved, and needed. It is a smart investment to get this right.
Kenneth is the VP of Marketing for Text Request, a business messaging software company. He’s been awarded for his work in psychology research and in sales, has been seen in outlets like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and StartupNation, and has helped companies from pre-launch startups to billion-dollar businesses achieve their goals.
“Ask people for their opinions, both in 1:1 conversations and in group settings…”
It’s an easy step to take to become a facilitator, and when others realize you actually care what they think – and that they can speak without judgment – you will build a team that works very well together.
Others in the group may be judgmental, and you’ll have to rebut them. Some may be timid, and you’ll have to encourage them over time. How quickly it works depends on you, the individuals, and their past experiences, but simply asking others for their opinions and inputs goes a long way.
Michael Alexis is the CEO of TeamBuilding. TeamBuilding has 100+ employees. They run team-building events for clients like Apple, Amazon, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Netflix, Chipotle, and many others.
“My #1 recommendation to improve collaboration at work is to use The 8% Rule…”
This principle states that 8% of the time spent in any meeting should be dedicated to fun team-building activities. For example, you could do a quick round of ice breaker questions, play Two Truths and a Lie, or a more elaborate game.
Improving team collaboration is a marathon and not a sprint, which means you will see the greatest results from regular and consistent effort. The 8% Rule ensures that effort and is easy to accommodate since it equals about five minutes for every hour spent in meetings.
Ryan Salomon is the CEO of Kissmetrics. Originally from New Orleans, LA, he has Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Psychology from Louisiana State University. Ryan learned to program while attending Dev Bootcamp in 2013. After learning to program, he joined the Kissmetrics team in 2014 where he found his talent was best utilized communicating customer needs and becoming a liaison between the business and engineering sides of the house.
“Expanding on team collaboration is a difficult task to achieve, especially in a virtual setting…”
Employers should do their best to pinpoint which employees work the best with others. If you can find out who works best with one another, then you can assign teams accordingly so that projects run smoothly. If you do not wish to set people in teams, then you can evaluate which strengths each team member possesses and match them accordingly to bolster the abilities of the team for projects. Collaboration will make any team’s productivity increase massively, especially for larger-scale projects.
Colleen Condon has been the CLO at Facilitated Training since April 2019. She is a growth-oriented organizational development professional with over 15 years of experience in leadership development, employee engagement, culture change, innovation/design thinking, strategy development, and executive team development. Earlier, Colleen was the APAC Director L&D overseeing the needs of 64k of employees across 13 countries.
“Building trust that collaboration and improvements will be recognized…”
To do this, it is crucial to sell the problem to find the solution. Often employees are asked to do something without context or buy-in. For the employee, it feels like, and often is, extra work for them, regardless of the outcome for the organization. So, how can this be achieved? It starts with stakeholder engagement and communication. Start with why there is a need. Context and big picture information are everything here. Even if you think you have the solution, engage those that you are asking to work differently for ideas. Chances are they will come up with similar ideas and approaches, along with other approaches that you may not have considered. By working in this way, your employees have had the opportunity to be heard, share their ideas, and be part of the solution. And more importantly, they’ll be more likely to adapt their behaviors to work more collaboratively in the future.
Nick Chernets is the Founder and CEO of DataForSEO, the leading provider of marketing data. Just as much as he is passionate about data analysis and SEO, Nick also enjoys sharing his experience from the business side of the industry.
“Introduce the system of work buddies…”
One of the best ways to improve collaboration is motivating people to rely on each other. To do so, managers can introduce the system of ‘work buddies’ in which every person gets a colleague who is their first point of contact. The idea is to have people supporting each other and solving problems together. Instead of going straight to management, employees should have a chance to reach out to their coworkers and seek advice. Work buddies should change frequently so that people can get to know their colleagues well over time.
Caroline is the growth marketer and co-founder of CocoSign.
“I believe in having top-notch team collaboration among my employees…”
Because good teamwork and leadership skills are crucial to the success of their projects. In the current ongoing pandemic scenario, team collaboration to work better remotely can actually increase productivity. I personally promote a community working environment wherein employees feel that their opinion matters because a collaborative working environment encourages employees to apply themselves more to the organization.
A daily morning huddle is a good starting point. I invite my team to get together and discuss their goals, tasks for the day, and opportunities where teamwork would be beneficial. This is also the space where I encourage open and truthful communication. I work towards creating a psychologically safe working environment in which team members feel safe from judgment. The safer the environment for communication, the more collaborative that space will become.
I also encourage creativity and bonding among employees outside of work. Sometimes the brainstorming sessions that are done outside work are the best! And most importantly, I lead by example. I join my employees for meetings outside of work and I try to demonstrate cooperation at every turn. This works the best!
Lindsey Allard is the CEO of PlaybookUX, a video-based user feedback software. After seeing how time-consuming and expensive gathering feedback was, Lindsey made it her goal to create a solution to streamline the user feedback process.
“I think improving team collaboration is more of a full-time mindset, rather than just the ability to implement one thing and change everything…”
For me, bringing employees together as they work has helped improve team collaboration and bring everyone together. By having everyone work together on big tables in a common area – rather than isolated in offices or in separate places – natural conversation will spark and lead to more teamwork.
I really like what large tables have done for our workplace, and I’ve seen an increase in team collaboration because of it. Even better: have everyone put down their work and start a casual brainstorming conversation with everyone as they sit at their workplace.
Ewelina Melon is the Head of People and Culture at Tidio Chatbots.
“It goes without saying that team collaboration is critical, especially in the challenging times of the pandemic…”
Working in a hybrid mode with people in different locations, we find it essential to stay on the same page with every employee.
Our number one priority is to stay aligned on the company’s goals and every employee’s subsequent objectives. However, simple goal setting seemed not enough for us. It was too abstract at times and not so efficient with more and more newcomers joining and bringing their own knowledge and goals. So, we tuned our approach, refreshed our understanding and processes, and switched to the strategy of OITs – Objectives, Indicators, and Tasks:
- Objectives are short descriptions of our aspirations – they are our outcomes.
- Indicators are our KPIs that are specific and measurable – they are our outputs.
- Finally, tasks are the actual to-do lists – they are our inputs.
This system is our own unique variation of the well-known OKRs (Objectives + Key Results). The main difference is the introduction of tasks and a different vision of success: while in OKRs success means delivering around 60-70% of planned results, in OITs, we aim to deliver at least 100%. We find it vital to believe that we can always do better.
If one wants to get health benefits from goal-setting, it’s crucial to be serious about it. The OIT system means our goals are not just jotted down somewhere half-forgotten, but actively incorporated into our daily routine. If a company is growing fast, it’s easy to lose the alignment and the cooperation between different teams and departments. However, this is not the case with the OIT system. We actively seek how we can work together towards common objectives, help each other, and assess the importance of projects. The system shows in a comprehensible way:
- What is our goal for this year or quarter as a company, department, or team?
- How will we assess and track our progress?
- What should we do to achieve it?
- Who owns an OIT?
- With whom should we work especially closely together?
Here is a brief example of how an OIT is structured:
- Owner: Head of People and Culture
- Objective: To hire great people who will be sure that we are a good workplace.
- Recruitment plan
- 90% of offers accepted by candidates
- Scale the team
- Introduce the onboarding process
It’s worth mentioning that we tend to stick by Eisenhower’s quote stating, ‘Plans are nothing, planning is everything,’ and believe that nobody can plan everything out upfront. We start with OITs as assumptions based on what we currently know, have, and observe. But of course, as soon as we start completing our tasks, we learn more. Based on these learnings, we refine our OITs in the first half of their cycle (annual or quarterly). After a flexible start, in the second cycle half we end up with an enhanced version of OITs, and that’s where we shift our focus from assumptions to efforts and do our best to deliver 100% results.
This way, every single employee knows for sure what they are supposed to do daily, weekly, and quarterly, as well as what metrics they are working towards. They are flexible in their workflow, free to adjust their processes, and focused on delivering what they set out for themselves. It’s great to aim high, and a relevant goal structure can be a good starting point.
Jack Bailey is the Head of Marketing at Inwara.
“Instead of time management, aim for ATTENTION management…”
Most people know the hack of managing time but still fail miserably at maximizing productivity. So, if you are aiming for seamless team collaboration, learn how to help them keep their attention or focus in one place. Train them on how to prioritize tasks from basic to luxury. This will not only introduce a sequence of tasks but also help them set realistic goals and milestones.
David Chavez is the owner/CEO of Assured Strategy, a Las Vegas-based consulting firm that advises business owners and executives on a range of issues, from developing strategy and execution to cash management, leadership, and teambuilding. He and his colleagues guide business leaders through change and successful execution of their plans for growth and expansion and have represented more than 200 companies throughout North America.
“The #1 strategy to improve team collaboration in the workplace is…”
Getting the right people in the right seats doing the right things, and then building trust among your team. I find oftentimes with the companies I work with that CEOs ‘think’ they have this covered, but in reality, we find their staff doesn’t really know what the seats are, what their job description is, or if they even have one, and their team is confused about performance expectations. Once you have this in place, you can plan for not only effective team collaboration but also delegation to reliable people as part of your business growth strategy.
Michael Docktor, MD is Co-founder & CEO of Dock Health, a HIPAA compliant task management and collaboration platform built for healthcare. Additionally, Michael is a practicing gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital where he was the former Clinical Director of Innovation and Director of Clinical Mobile Solutions.
“The #1 strategy to improve team collaboration in the workplace is to ensure that…”
All team members have complete clarity of their individual responsibilities to the team and a clear understanding of how those responsibilities impact the overall outcome of a process or project.
Successful collaboration, however, is more than just completing one’s own tasks well and on time; it also requires effective communication among key team members to ensure that the status of a process or project is visible to, and understood by, all relevant parties.
Paul French is the Managing Director at Intrinsic Search.
“‘Keep me in the loop!’ How many times do you hear that phrase in a typical workplace?…”
Many times. Not being kept in the loop can easily throw you off, make you feel less productive, less in control of your work process, and probably even resentful (or distrustful) of your team members. It goes without saying that managers and team leaders who want to promote successful team collaboration must build strong, clear, and efficient feedback loops into the workflow.
Feedback loops not only encourage transparency as team members know who is doing what and when, but they also ensure that mistakes are corrected early and kinks are straightened out quickly, allowing the team to produce its best work all the time as a result of everyone’s concerted efforts.
Collaboration software combined with well-thought-out meeting cadences can help in implementing a strong feedback loop.
Tom Winter is an inveterate hacker, whether it comes to automating the tech recruitment process or enhancing his morning commute with an electric skateboard. At work, he is the lead HR Tech Recruitment Advisor and Co-founder of DevSkiller, a developer screening and online interview platform powered by RealLifeTesting™.
“Team collaboration is an important aspect of the workplace…”
As someone who works in small but agile teams, it was of utmost importance to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that a good balance can occur between the teams. Teams should set aside the time to know each other, understand each other’s greatest strengths and weaknesses that should be addressed, and also understand each other’s motivations for working.
Fostering personal but professional relationships among the team will result in more collaboration, given that they understand where the other person is coming from in their decisions and work strategies. Since they also know each other’s capabilities and shortcomings, it will also help them cover for each other when the situation arises.
Rishi is a startup veteran who started his entrepreneurial journey 10 years ago when he founded 1Click, which was subsequently acquired by Freshworks. He spent the next few years building and selling products at Freshworks and is now at the helm of Revv as CEO. Besides managing the product and mentoring the young fledgling startups, he has a ‘green thumb’ and is a health and fitness enthusiast.
“COVID-19 has proven to be an impediment on a lot of workplace cultures, team collaboration being a major one…”
Working from home has sort of turned our organization into small islands where most of the team feels extremely isolated from one another. We find this is alleviated by organizing times for our team to come together and fellowship. This could be putting together workshops and activities that foster team bonding and relationship building, which will create a system of supporting one another.
Max is the CEO of Dentaly, one of the largest dental health resources in the world.
“Cultivate empathy and mutual understanding…”
It’s important to remember that we’re humans and following a robotic approach never works. Although we operate and interact in line with professional protocols, it’s important to bring an element of ease in communication.
If you’re excessively formal, it prevents employees from interacting with each other. Incorporate a human approach that espouses empathy. Encourage teams to step into each other’s shoes and learn about different department’s challenges. This promotes a culture of respect and helps them develop positive connections at work.
Akram Assaf is the Co-Founder & CTO at Bayt.com. Bayt is the leading online recruitment and job-search platform in the MENA region, helping connect over 40,000 businesses with workers in the region.
“We’ve tested multiple team collaboration strategies here at Bayt, and one of the best ones was encouraging open and honest communication…”
Working remotely and relying on team collaboration tools wasn’t the greatest solution for open communication, but we made it work through a team effort. Today, every Bayt employee is fully encouraged to share feedback publicly, or directly to their supervisors if they prefer to do so. This approach gave us a lot of insight into how our team works, and we used the feedback to improve team collaboration. You will learn a lot of new things if you simply encourage your employees to share everything.
Igor Tkach is the CEO and General Manager at Daxx, a software development and technology consulting service company, part of Grid Dynamics Group. Igor’s areas of expertise span leading tech businesses, building remote teams, scaling business processes, client success, management consulting, business analysis, Agile project management, and product management. Igor has contributed to notable media outlets such as Forbes, Clutch, TechBeacon, Coiner, StartUs Magazine, and more.
“My #1 strategy for team collaboration is looking at the human side of teams…”
You cannot expect a team to work efficiently if you just put random people together who don’t know each other or have never worked together before.
When approaching the human side of teams, the first thing I do is introduce my teammates to each other, preferably outside of the workplace. I want them to know each other, what they do, what their job is, what their strengths are, and what they can help each other with.
I also take the time to fully introduce the project we’ll be working on, highlighting the goals we want to achieve and convincing each team member to want to achieve that goal too. Everyone must be working with their eyes on the same prize. I also explain to each team member what they will be doing and their purpose on the project.
Getting your team to understand other team members as humans makes empathy grow because they find themselves on common ground looking for a common objective.
Jason ‘J-Ryze’ Fonceca
Jason ‘J-Ryze’ Fonceca the CEO of Ryze. He is a modern-day merlin who helps rebel-preneurs.
“The #1 strategy for collaboration in the workplace is a collaborative culture…”
If you uproot an American and put them in a European country, what happens? Despite them being a die-hard hand-shaker, they begin greeting friends with a kiss on the cheek. Or drop them into the Middle East, and even if they’re lefty, they’ll quickly learn to use their right hand for eating. All because culture exerts a vast influence on the people in it.
A more business-focused example is Zappos. Culture is so important that the company offers new hires $2,000 to quit post-training if it feels right. All this to make sure they get employees on board with their culture.
Creating a collaborative culture is a powerful overarching strategy. It’s also one that takes practice, investment, and nuance. So much so, that most companies simply refuse to do it.
Creating a collaborative culture doesn’t mean throwing $2,000 at every employee, but it does mean you have to take a hard look at the things your company prioritizes and make adjustments.
An open floor plan encourages collaboration, and so does eliminating corner offices. Fewer titles and emphasis on status and hierarchy encourage collaboration. Adding a ‘collaboration’ bonus to salaries encourages collaboration. Fun group projects and eye-popping endeavors encourage collaboration. Emotional intelligence does too, as does respect for people’s space, feelings, and unique approaches.
The point isn’t to do all these or even one of them. The point is to be a smart, creative CEO who pays attention to the culture of their company. As you pay attention, notice bottlenecks in collaboration. Notice frustrations. Notice things that separate people and keep them apart or distance them. Then solve them. Be a leader who solves any collaboration issue that comes up. Do this one by one, and eventually, you’ll have created a culture of collaboration.
And once you have a culture of collaboration, any worker assimilates into it or leaves. What you’re left with are people who ‘get’ collaboration. People who do it naturally as part of the culture. Even if they were loners, they’ll find themselves embracing the collaborative culture. All because you built a culture for it, and it’s human nature to adapt to our environment.
Creating a culture of collaboration takes more work, but has an epic pay-off in all areas of business.
Stefan Smulders is the CEO of Expandi, a B2B SaaS for LinkedIn marketing based in the Netherlands.
“If it takes one hour for a person to complete a task, how long would it take…”
With two people? The mathematical answer would be 30 minutes, but when working as a team, the efforts of the members are enhanced, reducing the time of action and increasing the effectiveness of the results.
This way of working, in which all participants are responsible for achieving a common goal, is the most effective for any type of organization. This is not only because it is easier to meet the objectives but also because it is the best way to retain talent and foster an enviable work environment. For example, Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin empire, always talks about it in his posts and communications. As a great leader, he knows that two heads are better than one. No matter the field or the size of the company, this strategy can be implemented successfully.
In addition to this, a good strategy is composed of several tactics that must be promoted and deployed, such as building trust, establishing common goals, involving the team in decisions, ensuring understanding between the parties, promoting responsibility and mutual commitment, promoting communication, taking advantage of diversity, celebrating group successes. Last but not least, every team needs a leader to guide and bring together individual skills to create one unified effort.
Karin joined Jorsek, makers of easyDITA, in 2019 as President. With over 30 years as a software industry professional at IBM, Karin has worked in all facets of software development and management, from leading support, services, and operations organizations to directing globally dispersed product management and development teams.
“More teams are at each others’ proverbial throats — even if passive-aggressively (as per my last email) — because of poor transparency…”
Your organization has different teams work together to achieve the same goal. The jobs each team is responsible for are different, but the end result is successfully working parts of a whole. And that whole brings in revenue.
Bottom line notwithstanding, when different parts of the whole are cut off from each other, there’s bound to be some friction in getting the whole together. This applies to one team collaborating among themselves just as much as it applies to multiple departments working together across an organization.
Corporate communication is an oft-touted accolade that companies boast, but the reality is usually quite different. It’s easy to internalize processes – whether that be individuals, single teams, or several departments. Effective operational strategy can’t afford to be without transparency and it’s leadership’s responsibility to be examples of this. When transparency is the status quo from the C-suite on down, people will notice and it’ll become the status quo by proximity.
Ideally, transparency that permeates whole organizations starts with leadership, but if that isn’t happening (which is often the case), don’t mark it as a lost cause. Practice transparency individually, on small teams, in seemingly minuscule interactions. You’d be surprised at how infectious it is. Wherever the example begins, it’s best that it’s somewhere rather than nowhere. Because without organizational transparency, even the smallest bit, collaboration is little more than spacefiller on your website’s values page.
Marie Krebs is the People Operations Manager at workplace learning platform Learnerbly and co-founder of People Stories, a non-profit remote learning community of People professionals. She is passionate about building people-informed, value-driven, and strategy-led experiences and fostering engaging, enabling, and inclusive cultures.
“Communication is the key to strong teamwork…”
Make sure people know what roles and responsibilities each of their team members have so that they know who to go to for help with a task or collaboration on a project.
It’s also important to set up the right channels to ensure that people can communicate quickly and easily, and sort their communications so they can find the right messages when they need to.
Make use of the fact that different communication platforms have different strengths. For example, people can use a task management system like Asana to keep track of who is doing what, emails for information that they’ll want to search for in the future, and voice notes when they want to send a complex message quickly, without wasting time considering how to word an email.
At Learnerbly, we use multiple Slack channels so that everyone stays in the loop, while keeping different topics separate so that information doesn’t get muddled or lost.
Rowan O’Grady is the President of Americas at Mason Frank International.
“In three words: keep it simple…”
If there’s one way to keep teams motivated and productive, especially in these complex times, it’s to make collaboration as easy as possible. Make sure you’re holding effective meetings with a clear purpose and that you’re keeping them as brief and direct as possible. Ensure you’re collaborating using the right tech tools. Have standardized collaboration processes and systems in place. It’s easier to have everyone on the same page and working together effectively if employees do not need to worry about how they have to do so. The definition of collaboration and teamwork has shifted as our realities have changed to adapt to the times we’re living through. But, essentially, it still occurs when two or more people work together to produce something – whether virtually or in person.
Jakub Rudnik is the VP of Content at Shortlister. Jakub has led content and SEO teams at Shortlister, G2 Crowd, and L2T Media. He also teaches digital journalism classes at DePaul University.
“So many factors are at play in generating team or organizational collaboration…”
In the past year, many organizations have felt the strain of distance or remote working on a collaboration.
The single biggest factor I’ve seen in leading teams for generating collaboration is giving employees of all levels insight into the high-level goals the team is trying to achieve, and then giving them a voice on how to achieve those goals.
As a manager or team leader, ultimately you will have to make final decisions, and you cannot bring every employee into every decision. But ultimately collaboration is problem-solving, and employees can’t help you solve these problems unless they know what you’re trying to achieve. When they don’t have insight into the ‘why’ of your goals, an employee can simply feel like their job is to execute tasks. Instead, giving them the endpoint and a reasonable amount of flexibility on how they get there can greatly improve processes and improve the final results.
Sam Shepler is the founder and CEO of Testimonial Hero, a 7-figure location-independent services business. He is a career entrepreneur with 1X previous acquisition. More than 150 B2B revenue teams at Google, UiPath, Medallia, InsightSquared, and many others use Testimonial Hero to easily create customer videos that engage prospects, reduce friction in the sales cycle, and drive more revenue faster.
“A company cannot succeed if its various teams do not work in harmony…”
Good teamwork is crucial to a company’s success in its projects since it provides improved efficiency and productivity. However, getting a group of strangers to get along with each other and work towards a common goal is no easy task, which is why we always try to follow one strategy to keep improving team collaboration in the workplace, and that is rewarding collaboration.
There is nothing better than motivating your employees to work as a team through incentives, which do not necessarily have to be monetary. Offering bonuses and promotions can work as a good strategy, but you could also reward teams’ collaboration with something as simple as public recognition. You could start a Team of the Month initiative to appraise that month’s best example of teamwork, and that can be the first step to deeply unified teams.
Dave is a nationally recognized trainer, facilitator, and speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Oak and Reeds, which offers practical business training to its clients including CBRE, PayPal, and the Kellogg School of Management. Dave is also an accomplished improviser. With his teammates, he won the National Collegiate Improv Tournament, has headlined shows across the country, and coached hundreds of people in the art of improvised comedy.
“The strategy I find most successful in improving team collaboration is the application of the concept of…”
For me, “Yes, and” means treating all ideas with respect. It is helpful in many workplace scenarios because it generates a conversational flow that builds toward winning ideas and creates an inclusive environment where more people feel comfortable contributing.
“Yes, and” allows people to turn off their internal editors and feel more comfortable sharing incomplete thoughts that others can add to, not pick apart. Also, rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next, “Yes, and” forces you to be an active listener, another essential quality of a strong team, so you can creatively build upon others’ ideas as they’re sharing them in real time.
Christine McKay is a global negotiation strategist, international speaker, founder, and CEO of Venn Negotiation, author of the book Why Not Ask? A conversation about getting more, and host of the newly launched podcast on negotiation strategies, In the Venn Zone.
“In every collaboration, including team collaboration in the workplace, there are three primary elements…”
Ourselves, our team members, and the environment in which we are working. In order to collaborate effectively, we need to acknowledge all three elements and get curious about them. We need to be clear about what we want and how important things are to us. We need to ask effective questions to create an opportunity to discover possibilities with our team members. And we need to explore the situation to see how the objectives of all parties can be met given the situation or determine if there are things we can do to change the situation. Develop an understanding of how others see the situation, what works for them, and what doesn’t. Explore specific details at a deeper level and you’ll uncover more opportunity to deepen the collaboration than you ever thought possible. In summary: be curious!
Tyler Boyd is the Chief Strategy Officer at Squeeze, a company that is changing the way consumers save money on their household bills.
“Work to understand the different collaborative styles of your employees…”
While some of us work better when speaking face-to-face or brainstorming in group environments, others prefer taking the time to intricately write down their thoughts before sending them along. Some people thrive using apps like Trello to organize their teams, while others find new technology confusing. Once you figure out which styles best suit your employees, create teams that have similar collaboration styles and work to accommodate their needs.
Simon Dwight Keller
Simon Dwight Keller is the Founder & CEO of SDK Marketing.
“Find an influencer from the company…”
You can’t keep an eye on everyone at all times, especially digitally. That’s why your first step is to identify your organization’s internal influencers. Give them the responsibility of taking care of your remote employees. From maintaining personal relationships to ensuring everyone is on the same page throughout the day, they will enhance your employees’ remote work experience. Think about which people best embody the culture of your organization. Whoever thinks of it, keep an eye on them. They will oil the internal machinery of your organization, particularly in times of change.
Improving team collaboration is a top priority for most businesses today, especially in the wake of the sudden shift to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With remote and hybrid work models likely here to stay to some extent, it’s more vital than ever for companies to implement effective strategies to improve collaboration in both face-to-face and virtual work environments.