How to achieve effective collaboration in the workplace
Collaboration in the workplace is the foundation of successful business outcomes.
August 20, 2018

Collaboration in the workplace is the foundation of successful business outcomes. Workplace collaboration has no shortage of benefits, including increased job satisfaction, employee retention and alignment to the company mission. However, it is estimated that 38 percent of employees don't think there are high levels of collaboration in their work environment.

What's the potential harm of a non-collaborative work environment? Team members work in silos, communication suffers and tasks might be duplicated across teams. Employee engagement suffers, new ideas never come to fruition and motivation drops. Coworkers rarely share ideas because they aren't encouraged to collaborate.

Fortunately, there are a variety of resources and methods business leaders can utilize to create a collaborative workplace and improve team dynamics. Read on to learn about best practices you can employ to create a collaborative spirit in any organisation.

Effective Collaboration Gets Work Done Faster

When some people think about workplace collaboration, they are reminded of being forced to work in time-consuming groups back in school. First, let's get a better understanding of what effective collaboration in the workplace means.

Effective collaboration doesn't mean having more meetings in an effort to collaborate more. Collaboration is woven into the daily fabric of the work environment with frequent, daily communication about things that matter. With the right tools, standing weekly meetings can even be reduced or replaced.

With effective collaboration, employees' lives become easier, the decision-making process is streamlined and problem-solving becomes simpler. Let's take a deeper look into two examples of collaboration in a business environment.

What Ineffective Collaboration Looks Like

A medium-sized business is preparing to introduce a new item to their product line. Senior-level executives meet and discuss options and agree on a timeline, without consulting with middle-level managers about existing priorities and the capacity of their teams.

They decide which product to push and outline a marketing plan and key deliverables. They have weekly planning meetings and are excited about the new product launch and feel confident the rest of the organisation will mirror their enthusiasm.

Mid-level managers hear whispers about change and this trickles down to their direct reports, but no one really knows what to expect. The day before the product launch, a lengthy organisation-wide email goes out, passionately explaining the new product. The message contains a few essential details but creates more questions and anxiety for employees rather than the same excitement senior leaders have.

Employees panic. They don't know what specific tasks they are responsible for and feel disengaged because they weren't involved in any way. Motivation drops, along with productivity. When this happens repeatedly, company culture suffers. Team members get further and further away from the mission and turnover can increase a great deal.

A Different Perspective In a Collaborative Environment

What happens in the same scenario within a collaborative team environment? Especially in larger companies, not everyone can be directly involved in the decision-making process. However, to increase engagement across departments and seniority levels, imagine if the organisation developed a committee with multiple individuals from each department across seniority levels. They work together to come up with several product line options to introduce to the rest of the organisation.

Prior to the launch, they have a company-wide meeting to introduce the new product options to the entire team and detail the key features of each product, and how it aligns with the company mission. Each employee is given the opportunity to offer feedback and can vote for one product.

The effect? With team collaboration like this, employees feel a strong sense of ownership of the important aspects of the project. They have a meaningful reason to be engaged in the product launch and will work harder to ensure it succeeds. Motivation rises and coworkers feel empowered to share their ideas and collaborate with one another.

Encouraging Team Collaboration In the Workplace

While the benefits of a collaborative work environment are clear, creating one doesn't happen overnight. Just as every individual brings a different skill set to the table, they also bring habits from previous work experience, varying personalities and attitudes regarding collaboration. Work towards a higher level of team collaboration by incorporating habits and using tools that encourage collaboration.  

Build Trust Between Coworkers

It's well-known what we work better with people we like and we trust. Facilitate social outings away from the office for team members to build a collaborative spirit. They will have a better experience working together and enjoy more open communication with social ties outside the workplace.

Provide a variety of options for socialisation to encourage participation. Organize happy hour events, team sports, book clubs, or group outdoor recreational activities. Put a team member who enjoys event-planning in charge of the social calendar.

A common problem for virtual teams is the inability to socialise and interact in person often. Be sure to include on-site events for the entire team at least once or twice a year into your budget. Make sure managers are able to travel to visit with their direct reports quarterly.

While this can get expensive, video-conferencing can't replace in-person communication. Your team will be more engaged with one another and more productive when they spend time fostering their relationships.

Communicate Clear Goals and Expectations

The most collaborative workplaces have one thing in common: Everyone knows the main goal they are working towards as an organisation. Team members communicate with each other and know what specific tasks they are responsible for.

Smart companies foster accountability to goals with the right tools and software. They use performance management tools that can track, measure and record progress towards individual and common goals in a transparent, collaborative environment.

New technology and software programs make encouraging collaboration and accountability easier than ever. Social performance management tools are particularly beneficial for remote teams. They have the ability to track and precisely organise collaboration across the entire company in real-time, regardless of varying time zones and locations.

Support Team Collaboration With Promises

Organisations that collaborate with measurable promises are powerful and reach company goals faster. When a person makes a promise they usually feel a social commitment to follow through, particularly if they are being held accountable in a public setting. There's no room for error or question regarding who is responsible for completing specific tasks or reaching targets.

Whether your business team is centrally located or operates in co-working facilities across the world, utilizing the best tools to incorporate promises into your business environment is imperative for effective collaboration.

Samewave is social performance management software that uses the power of social technology for good. This free software helps teams communicate about goals while tracking commitments and encouraging collaboration in a transparent atmosphere. Introduce Samewave to your team today to create the most collaborative atmosphere and foster accountability to goals and commitments.

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