The Ultimate Guide for improving collaboration and teamwork
Team collaboration has never been more important. And, numbers support this fact as well. In a recent survey conducted by Fierce Inc., 86% of respondents blamed the lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
While it has become a culture in corporate world to bring mentally diverse people together in one team and expect them to work wonders, one needs to understand that collaboration is not merely an act of bringing people together and putting them in one team. It is more about what people know, how they think and how they can work together to achieve the set goal. Even the most talented people can turn out to be nothing more than a collection of silos when they are not able to gel together as a team.
If you are also stuck with same problem and wondering why is it that you are not able to get the best from the team, despite having tried with every fibre of your being to collaborate and bring them together, then here are some tips that can help -.
1. Start with ABCD.
No, Iâm not talking about you getting back to playschool. ABCD here stands for: Assign, Brainstorm, Communicate and Discuss, the four pillars on which you fabricate the building of successful collaboration and teamwork. As the person responsible to bring the team together, you must inculcate these four facets of collaboration within your attitude and start moving ahead working hand in hand with your team.
Hereâs how it goes –
- Assign tasks – As Jim Collins always says, âthe journey from good to great starts when you get the right people in the bus on the right seatsâ. So, you need to assign the right tasks to the right set of people, keeping in mind that a team is a collaborative effort where individual members must feel a sense of ownership. While assigning tasks to individual team members, consider factors like experience, skill sets and their personality types in mind. Fitting the right people in the projectâs key working areas can be the difference between success and failure of the project.
- Brainstorm – once the team is finalized, it becomes imperative to establish an explicit process about what the team needs to accomplish. It is important to brainstorm about the pain areas of the project that might hinder in achieving results in the future and jot them down before you start working. You must take advantage of individual talent and skill-set to let each member come up with ideas and share their opinion on how to root these problems out. Donât forget, âNone of us is as smart as all of us.â (Ken Blanchard)
- Communicate – communication is the strenuous barrier that a team needs to cross to make a project successful. The importance of communication in achieving successful results can be judged from the outcome of a six-year study carried out by the U.S. Forest Service. According to this study, 70% or more of the teams were âsuccessfulâ when they had all thinking styles represented, as compared to 30% or fewer that didnât. So, encourage team members to voice out their opinions openly and collaborate seamlessly, minimizing the importance of ranks in a team with open communication.
- Discuss – coming together is the beginning, but working together is the success. Nothing is worse than having a group of âyes peopleâ too afraid to voice their opinions in fear of rejection. When you have a bunch of passionate people brimming with ideas, then stimulating debates are bound to surface, be it a newly formed team or a seasoned one. By building a sense of trust and ownership amongst members, and providing them with a platform to discuss their ideas, you can transform your team into a lot more than just a bunch of smart workers.
2. The Vitamin âMeâ dosage
A strong commitment to group collaboration does not guarantee that the project will be a hit, a little time for yourself is also important. Free-wheeling discussions drain time and resources, resulting in nothing else, but slow progress and poor execution. (if they get off the ground at all, which is the biggest possibility in quite many cases). This is where Vitamin âMeâ comes into action. Whenever I think of teamwork, this quote from James Cash Penney comes to mind âThe best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” Individual time is vital for team members to move ahead, giving them the much-needed space to implement new things learned during the brainstorming sessions and team meetings. To go ahead with this formula, simply give them some alone time to test and get over with their share of work without interruption. And, see how positive results start to flow.
3. Donât forget to KISS
As alluring as it might sound, all I am talking about here is to âKeep your meetings short and sweetâ and not something else. Back-and-forth conversations with long periods of meeting time can lead to endless discussions, with the work being stuck inside a team. Setting a time deadline for each meeting and strictly adhering to it can solve the purpose here. The ultimate goal of each meeting should be to get something out of the door as quickly as possible and start with the implementation phase. And, the best way to achieve it is to figure out the problems ahead of scheduled meetings, as pointed out so correctly by Sydney Finkelstein in a BBC article,âA meeting without an agenda is like a restaurant without a menu.â Having a set agenda will not only ensure that the time spent collaborating is more productive, but will also get the meetings done and over with in lesser time.
On concluding note, I would like to add that it will be easy for the team to work together if they are equipped with the right set of tools. While you can go with the old school methods likeÂ email and instant messaging to communicate, share documents, reports and project updates, even build a project website to store all the critical information, it is always better to move ahead with technology and invest in a project management and collaboration tool such as ProofHub that allows you access all the information from one source, and avoid the risk of getting buried under the heap of files.
Arjun Setia works as a writer at ProofHub. For the past 3 years, he has been writing for various technology blogs. Coming from an intense background in science and biotechnology, he likes to relate advancements in technology with real-life activities. His future plans include to go on a bike trip to Leh Ladakh and travelling around the world. When not writing, he could be found lost in his own world with the headphones on.