As a manager, you know your team’s capabilities better than anyone. When the crew is falling short of its full potential, you’re the first one to notice. Fragmented communication, lack of cooperation, and close-mindedness are common obstacles to efficient, innovative progress.
What’s more, Wrike’s Stress Epidemic Report found that poor teamwork is the leading cause of stress in today’s workplace. Strained employees are taxed both on the personal and team level, and performance suffers.
Worldwide, companies are conquering internal challenges by bolstering collaboration processes. Aargon’s Research Globe predicts that by 2025, team collaboration will be the primary method for business communication, driven by the demand for higher performance and agility.
The problem is, how do you instill collaboration into the existing mindsets and daily working habits of your team members? According to Deloitte, “A combination of culture, leadership, and incentives needs to come together for effective collaboration and productivity to reign.” Change won’t happen overnight, but there are some practical steps managers can take to lead their team into a more collaborative work process.
What is a Collaboration Process?
A collaboration process is a work methodology in which the work environment is made efficient, foreseeable, dependable, and highly supportive using unified digital platforms that are not dependent on individuals or multiple types of applications. The idea behind the ideal collaborative process is to keep work going smoothly and teams collaborating seamlessly without loss of information even if individuals leave or tools fail. A collaboration process is ideally supported by a unified platform or tool that all employees use to transact work and store information.
7 Steps to sharpen the team Collaboration Process
1. Form strategic teams
Every team needs a variety of skill sets to cover projects, but even if members have been selected purposefully, their areas of expertise can go untapped. For a variety of reasons, assignments often don’t go to the person who could offer the best results based on experience, and others are left floundering to complete the work another team member could easily accomplish with more expertise in less time.
2. Promote diversity
A strong sense of community, where differences are respected, is essential for collaboration. If someone has a new idea but fears backlash and keeps quiet, the collaborative process is hampered.
Understanding personality and demographic differences goes a long way in expanding open-mindedness, growing empathy, and softening negative feelings among colleagues. Start by implementing a personality test to team members and asking them to review the results together gives members a chance to understand individualities different from their own. Then, also take time to learn from others about diversity related to age, race, gender, and more. When other personalities are better recognized, bias and prejudice can begin to subside.
3. Encourage team-oriented goals
At times, it’s easier for managers to hand out deadlines and goals to their teams. But when a group works together to establish their own goals and targets, everyone is more tightly connected to the venture and more deeply committed to success.
Managers can provide a model for setting objectives, such as SMART, for teams to use so that goals are clear from the start. As parameters are discussed, individuals should be aware of how their tasks align with the overall goal and supporting business strategy. Through a project’s duration, communicating with others to stay within the goal framework is essential, which leads us to the next point.
4. Designate a tool for the collaboration process
Email and work-based chat apps are familiar to employees, but these tools create a disconnect between the communication that surrounds work and work-related tasks. Conversations and documents are scattered across applications and difficult to find or share.
Contextual collaboration, however, ties discussions directly to projects, marketing endeavors, or contracts in the same platform. Workflow and communication all take place under one tab in an integrated digital workplace.
If someone leaves or switches teams, getting a new member on board and up to speed only requires one login where they can see documents, conversations, and projects online from any location.
5. Create a psychologically safe environment
Encourage your group to share constructive criticism and praise respectfully. Each individual’s experience and talents play into their unique perspective to tackle problems and tasks. No one’s opinion should be discredited.
In a truly collaborative environment, ideas will regularly clash, but common team objectives should motivate team members to work through conflict for the greater good. When handled with poise, conflict can ignite creativity and innovation in a team.
In addition to the vocational proficiencies your employees possess, they also need skills essential for collaboration. Collaborative Outcomes identifies five primary skills necessary for collaboration: active listening, dialogue, feedback, conflict management, and facilitation. Offering seminars or training sessions can help strengthen these skills to maintain a positive environment.
6. Offer rewards and incentives for collaboration
Rather than sticking to traditional incentives for individual performance, offer rewards for team performance. Did the team meet a major milestone on time? Reward the entire team. It doesn’t have to be monetary. Get creative! What are some special privileges that would motivate your teams to perform together?
When employees see that management highly values collaboration, the “team” mindset is reinforced. Barriers to collaboration fed by internal competition, like data hoarding and “my project” mindsets, begin to fade. Team members see each other as assets instead of threats to their career advancement.
7. Establish consistent standards for the collaboration process
Publish roles, policies, and requirements for collaboration in teams and across the organization as a whole, if possible. For example, for all one-time projects, teams must create a project board that specifies the individual processes and target timeline.
The purpose and benefits of collaboration tools in the workplace should be explained to help get everyone on board with the shift toward collaboration. Some employees would be comfortable using email for the rest of their days, but a little intentionality can help them see that the familiar way isn’t always the best.
Achieve contextual collaboration in the workplace with Kissflow Collaboration
A collaborative work process for your team is not out of reach. The combination of a shift in company culture and a centralized tool is the key to more collaborative processes.
Kissflow Collaboration offers a unique solution for more robust collaboration. In self-service project boards, automated processes, or case workflows, employees can add comments directly to the task at hand. For conversations not specific to a project, discussion boards can be created on a team or topic basis for easy reference.
Quickly collect opinions or feedback from colleagues through a survey option for timely decision-making. Managers can both check and discuss the status of projects in the same application, simplifying the tech overload and cutting down on app toggle time.
Watching your team perform like a well-oiled machine is worth the time and effort to instill collaboration in the workplace. Armed with the right tool and some practical steps, you can guide your team into a healthy collaboration process and make a remarkable impact on your organization.