Six keys to effective collaboration in the workplace

Collaboration.

It’s nothing new, and as defined by the oxford dictionary; ‘is the act of working with another person or group of people to create or produce something.’

Sounds simple, right?

Well, the concept may be straightforward, but the practical application is far more complicated. There is a lot packed into that short sentence. You may have the skills needed to set you up for collaborating effectively but working with others is no longer about what you do but how you do it. Indeed, the approach you and your team take to collaboration can make all the difference.

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With that in mind, we have gone through six principles to collaborating successfully at work.

Trust

Healthy relationships are built on trust, both inside and outside of the workplace. It is the foundation of a healthy corporate culture and a necessary component in successful collaborative workspaces. In fact, collaboration does not work unless there is trust. When team members know they can rely on one another and realise that all contributions are welcomed and respected, it helps to foster an environment whereby morale increases, productivity rises, and work output becomes outstanding in quality.

To build trust, work to create a company culture in which each team member is seen as a valuable asset. Hold team-building events on a regular basis, encourage group work projects, as well as acknowledge and reward effort. Model trustworthy behaviours from the top down by speaking freely, sharing news and information, and making staff feel valued and appreciated.

Empathy

In business, every member of a team has an important role to play. However, issues arise when one or more individuals feel that they have it tougher than everyone else or that other team members are attempting to pull them down.

To succeed when it comes to collaboration, leaders and their teams need to understand that effective collaboration is fuelled by empathy - an awareness of others, as well as the ability to identify and comprehend their emotions and points of view. Begin by asking more questions, actively listening, adopting an inquisitive mindset, and building on the ideas of others to develop empathetic collaboration.

Efficiency

Most organisations rely on effective teamwork to achieve success, yet many find it difficult making the process efficient. Take meetings for example – an essential element of collaboration over the years – have gotten a bad rap. Sometimes there can be too many, and some hosts don't know how to best manage their time, or agenda.

Luckily, there are a few things businesses can do to help transform their team into a productivity machine – and it starts at the top. Indeed, Raluca Apostol, the co-founder of tech company Nestor, says efficiency can take some serious work – and that employees often need help getting on the right track: “If your team members lose your focus quickly, help them build healthy habits in maintaining it, like using time management tools, having an accountability partner, or by using productivity systems”.

Positivity

Research shows that positivity can make a significant difference to our success and overall well-being. It improves our ability to think creatively, advance in our jobs, deal with problems, and work with others. In a nutshell, it's a must-have element for success – especially in collaboration.

But how do you encourage positive practices in your workplace?

Well, the research team at Harvard Business Review found four main ways:

  • Leadership
  • Culture
  • Small steps
  • Retreats and workshops

Find out more about these here.

Clarity

It is unusual for everyone in a team to be on the same page from the start. In fact, the general state of a team when starting a project is chaos and confusion. Then, as time goes on - strategies shift, plans change, and teams grow - projects only become more confusing.

And that’s why clarity is key; from clarifying why employees are doing whatever it is they’re working on in the first place, to clarifying the plan as well as peoples responsibilities to get there. When team members understand what is expected of them, which parts of their position are most essential, how their performance contributes to team goals, and how their performance will be assessed, the team as a whole performs more effectively.

Accountability

Collaboration without accountability can result in project delays, a lack of engagement, and failure to meet key performance indicators (KPIs). Undeniably, when too many individuals ‘own’ a project, the responsibility for its success is distributed, and no one is held accountable if something goes wrong. However, although important, holding people accountable is one of the hardest things when working in a group.

The most successful organisations in this area are those that have systems and processes whereby staff can reference a project’s schedule and responsibilities, so they are aware how their contributions affect the group. That way, if deadlines are missed or someone isn't carrying their weight, it can be handled smoothly and as soon as possible.

Building a collaborative, successful workplace

We've all seen how collaboration has grown over the years, as well as the benefits that come with doing it correctly. However, it’s no easy task to work as a group effectively and efficiently. Bringing together people from different backgrounds, and sometimes different time zones together to work towards one goal can be a challenge for anyone. Fortuantely, as we have discussed, all it takes is changing your mindset. By keeping the values written about in this blog in the back of your mind the next time you need to work collaboratively with your team, you will be set up for success.

With over 16 years of experience, the entrust IT Group have worked with a range of businesses, in a variety of industries to provide them with the tools needed to assist with effective collaboration. After all – if teams can’t communicate, they won’t be able to collaborate. Microsoft Teams specifically has been key for a number of our customers, helping to bring teams together despite being separated in distance for a prolonged period. If the blog has raised any issues you would like help with, do not hesitate to get in touch with us on 0330 002 0045 or email sales@entrustit.co.uk.

Alternatively, why not download our FREE eBook on Microsoft Teams –the collaboration platform that is fuelling growth in this post-Covid world. Estimated read time – 5 mins! >>

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