You know the saying: “Two heads are better than one”.
When it comes to running a business, this phrase is especially true. The success of your company depends on all team members coming together to contribute creative ideas, problem solve, and provide the best experience to your customers.
That’s why inspiring team collaboration is essential to achieving your business goals and creating an innovative work environment.
In fact, one study found that even the mere perception of being part of a collaborative team was enough to boost performance.
Are you tapping into this collaborative potential?
In this guide, we’re covering what team collaboration is, why it matters, and how to get it right.
Team Collaboration – Not Just Another “Feel Good” Term
When someone mentions “team collaboration”, it may conjure up memories of those cheesy team building exercises, or stock photos of people gathering around a computer.
It may paint the picture that team collaboration is a “feel good” term that’s synonymous with office camaraderie with an occasional “brainstorming” session.
In reality, team collaboration is more about creative problem-solving, communication, knowledge sharing, and innovation.
Collaboration goes much deeper than just building rapport with your team or having a company Slack channel.
In its simplest definition, “collaboration” refers to the process of working with people to create something. In your business, this could mean coming up with solutions to problems, tackling a big project, creating a new product, and much more.
For true team collaboration, you need a system that encourages enthusiastic participation by everyone on your team when it comes to them contributing their ideas, expertise, and skills.
Why Team Collaboration Matters
Team collaboration beyond the usual team-building games and group chats matters for a variety of reasons.
The most important (and most measurable) is that it reduces the amount of time and money spent on company tasks. Productive teams move faster and achieve better results when they work collaboratively than when they work incongruently.
Below are some of the many benefits of increasing team collaboration.
Benefits of Team Collaboration
- Less time spent on group tasks and projects
- Less money spent on resources and employee hours to accomplish a task
- Better use of tools like email, video chat, project management tools, and more
- More opportunities for team members to contribute creative ideas
- Improved knowledge sharing within the company
- Increase in team-focused decision-making vs individual-focused decision making
- Quality control across projects and client-facing tasks
- A more open, accepting, and respectful work environment for all
Challenges: Why it’s Hard to Inspire Team Collaboration in the Workplace
The concept of team collaboration sounds easy when it is equated with team games and chatting at the office coffee station. By now, we know it’s not that simple. Unfortunately, many companies find true team collaboration difficult to achieve for a variety of reasons.
Getting all team members on the same page is often easier said than done. This is because every team is composed of different personalities with different communication styles. Miscommunication does happen, especially when there are so many communication tools at our disposal.
Lack of Motivation
Your team is only as strong as the “weakest link”. If you have members on your team that are only there to run out the clock or don’t want to participate in meetings, then you will have a hard time inspiring collaboration. Every person of your team needs to be motivated to contribute their ideas and skills for the good of the company.
A lot of companies get collaboration right in the beginning but then over-do it with information overload. If you employ too many processes, training videos, communication tools, weekly meetings, etc., this can cause confusion and overwhelm.
Outdated Tools and Methods
On the flip side, if your business relies on tired communication tools like email and phone calls for the majority of your internal communication, this can slow collaboration down significantly.
There are other more efficient tools available today, which we will cover later on.
Lack of Efficiency
Team collaboration takes time and money, at least in the beginning. That’s because there is a period of time where you need to make sure that everyone is up to snuff.
You may need to purchase and implement some new tools. You may also need to provide extra training.
For a growing company, these costs may cause financial strain. To combat this, we recommend that you scale up slowly. Take advantage of free trials until you find the right tools for your team.
No Immediate Results
If you’ve tried your hand at boosting team collaboration and aren’t seeing results right away, you may be feeling discouraged. Sometimes this alone is enough to make managers throw in the towel. But don’t give up now! As with most changes in your business, there will be a learning curve. We assure you, if you stick with it, it will pay off.
The Future of Team Collaboration
A recent study found that 86% of employees noted lack of collaboration as responsible for failures in the workplace.
What this means is that your company’s growth may be stunted if team collaboration isn’t made a priority.
The future of team collaboration is one where managers prioritize creating an environment and system that is conducive to collaboration.
This includes the use of various strategies and tools to increase communication, innovation, knowledge sharing, and efficiency. Many companies are taking action on this already.
Now’s your chance to get ahead of the curve and implement some strategies for inspiring enthusiastic team collaboration.
Here are 14 ideas to get you there.
14 Team Collaboration Strategies to Employ
1. Lead by Example
As a manager or team leader, you are the person that your team members look to when it comes to your company’s values and standards. What collaboration looks like in your company is part of that.
It’s your company’s best interest to create an environment that is supportive and conducive to collaboration. Team members need to feel respected and that they are free to contribute ideas. If you run your business with an iron fist, your employees may be afraid to speak out.
At the same time, you can set an example of what collaboration looks like by continuously asking for input. Work to build relationships with the people on your team and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Be honest that you don’t always have all the answers.
2. Create a Collaborative Work Environment
If your company works out of an office, then you have another opportunity to increase collaboration in your physical environment.
Employees like to have a space to call their own, with additional spaces for collaboration (like meeting rooms, casual sitting areas, an office kitchen, etc.).
Open office plans can be distracting, but team members should have areas they can turn to for working on projects and conducting meetings. Having a mix is key.
3. Communicate Your Company’s Goals
Your company’s leadership team may be familiar with the company’s low- and high-level goals, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is. If your employees don’t know what your business is trying to achieve, it will be difficult for them to work toward a common goal.
You can conduct team meetings to cover that the short and long term goals are, how success will be measured, and what tasks team members should focus on. Answer any questions your team members have. If you outline expectations from the beginning, you can help prevent confusion and frustration in the future.
4. Issue Incentives
It’s simply true that not every team member will be gung-ho about collaboration. People are motivated by different things.
As a leader, you should take the time to learn what makes each person tick.
What inspires them? What are the good at? What makes them feel most rewarded?
With this information, you can offer incentives for them to participate. These incentives will vary from person-to-person but can include bonuses, promotions, leadership roles, additional support, praise, or anything else that motivates them. These should not be used as a bribe – rather as a way to commend or support them when they do what they do best.
5. Let Team Members Take Initiative
Many team members will take initiative on their own. Usually, these are the people that get satisfaction out of facing a challenge. If someone on your team wants to take the lead on a project, this presents an opportunity for you to support them.
Natural-born leaders often have a knack for inspiring collaboration. Use these team members to your advantage by letting them take initiative on projects. The person with the most skills may not always be the best fit for the job. It could be the person with the right drive and attitude.
6. Present Problems and Ask For Solutions
It’s rarely beneficial to give the illusion that your business doesn’t face struggles or problems.
That’s because you are limiting your human power to only yourself (or your leadership team) rather than tapping into the innovative abilities of the rest of your team.
When faced with a problem that affects an entire department or your entire company, it may be worth it to ask your team members for solutions.
Not only will this send the message that your respect your team’s input, but it will also increase your chances of solving the problem. Someone may present an idea that you had never thought of before. Again, the leadership team doesn’t always have all the answers.
7. Organize and Streamline Processes
Team collaboration is made easier when company processes are clear and straightforward.
If everyone on your team has a different way of doing the same task, it creates room for miscommunication and hiccups.
By creating organized and streamlined processes, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to how things are done.
You can accomplish this by creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) for common tasks in your business, like:
- How to onboard a new client
- How to add a new project to your project management tool
- How to follow up with leads at each stage of the sales cycle
- What to do if employee conflict arises
- What communication tools are available for use and how to use them
You can then save these SOPs to your company’s knowledge base to grant easy access to anyone on your team. That way, no matter who is working on a task, they will know how to do it the right way.
8. Ask for Feedback
Even you do have defined processes, this doesn’t always mean they are the most efficient ways of doing things.
Being open to feedback allows you to make adjustments to your business SOPs based on employee suggestions.
What better way to increase efficiency than to get feedback from the people that use these SOPs and tools every day?
As vulnerable as it may feel, it’s also worth it to ask for feedback regarding your leadership style. Perhaps there are things you can work on to make team members feel more supported.
One of the key signs of a good leader is being someone who is not afraid of change. That includes changes to your own behavior and way of doing things. Be open to feedback in order to help your entire company become more creative, productive, and collaborative.
9. Share Knowledge and Resources
Every person on your team brings different strengths and skill sets to the table. But imagine the possibilities if all of that knowledge was available to the collective rather than being cooped up in each person’s noggin.
This is the magic of knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing involves the collection, organization, application, and productive of knowledge within an organization. It’s a process of putting what’s *up here* down on paper.
Each person on your team can contribute to the knowledge sharing process by offering their ideas, providing helpful resources, sharing their expertise, and much more. This information can then be collected and organized in a system where anyone can access it.
With this knowledge readily available, your team has the resources they need to be more efficient and effective.
10. Highlight Team Members’ Strengths
Similar to the previous strategy, you can also inspire collaboration by focusing on individuals’ strengths.
- Supporting employees in what they do best
- Providing them opportunities to grow
- Encouraging them to take the lead on projects they would be good at
- Asking them to provide additional training to other members of the team
- Rewarding them for a job well done
When employees feel respected and supported, they are more likely to take initiative and share their knowledge with the group. It’s often just more efficient to align people with the tasks they are best suited for (and that they enjoy).
This has another benefit of making it clear to other people in your team who is best at what. That way, they will know who to turn to when they need help.
11. Encourage Creativity
The standard work environment can become a black hole where employees are sucked into performing the same mundane tasks every day. To improve collaboration, you need to combat this by encouraging creativity. It’s good to mix things up in a while.
When’s the last time you had a brainstorming session with your team?
Here are some questions to bring up:
- Is there a new market we should be tapping into?
- Are there any industry trends that we should be jumping on?
- Are there any bottlenecks in our sales funnel?
- Are there any interesting marketing ideas we could try?
- Is there a cool project that someone wants to take the lead on?
Having the conversations are a great way to encourage creativity and prevent stagnation in your business.
12. Use the Best Team Collaboration Software and Tools
Fortunately, there are so many helpful tools available to help companies improve team collaboration.
From communication to knowledge sharing to project management, you’ll find everything you need to keep things running smoothly in your business.
Some popular collaboration tools include:
- Slack – for team communication
- Zoom – for group video meetings
- Trello – for project management
- Helpjuice – for knowledge management
- Hubstaff Tasks - for task tracking
And there are many more collaboration tools on the market. We recommend testing out some free trials in order to figure out which tools work best for your team.
13. Track Immediate Results/Progress
It’s encouraging to your team when they can see their hard work paying off.
By tracking immediate results, you can show your team what’s been achieved even in a short length of time. This makes it easier to anticipate major progress in the future.
The indicators you use for success will vary depending on your goals, but some metrics could be:
- Employee satisfaction
- New leads obtained
- % sales growth
- New website traffic
- Social media growth and engagement
- Decrease in employee turnover
- Increase in profitability
Make sure your team knows when you hit each milestone, no matter how small. This shows that all of that effort they are putting in is paying off.
14. Reiterate the Company’s Mission
Growth metrics are important but equally as important is whether your company mission is being lived out.
Make it clear from the beginning what your company values are, who you help, what value you provide to customers, and what you are trying to achieve.
This makes everyone feel as though they are working for something bigger – a purpose beyond the numbers. When we feel that our work has meaning, we become more invested in our own success and the success of our team members.
Be Enthusiastic About Collaboration and Your Team Will Be Too
Team collaboration is incredibly important for business growth. But most importantly, it is an essential part of building an enthusiastic, happy, and creative team.
In this guide, you learned about 14 strategies for boosting team collaboration in the workplace.
Now’s your chance to put these strategies into action and start seeing the results.