Legendary basketballer Michael Jordan famously once said: Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. Team collaboration ideas are just as important to success in the world of business as they are in sport. According to one survey, collaborative teams are five times higher performing than others. Creating a company culture of team collaboration is, therefore, a no-brainer.
However, while we all know two heads are better than one, it’s not easy to get staff working together towards common goals. Different personalities, competing internal agendas or siloed departments can make collaboration a challenge.
And so, here are 15 team collaboration ideas to help encourage teamwork in your place of work.
1. Establish Clear Roles And Responsibilities
The first step to effective team collaboration is to set clear roles and responsibilities. Once this has been agreed verbally, make sure it’s documented too. Team members need to know what’s required and what’s expected both individually and collectively. With a clear understanding, team members can work more effectively together. Furthermore, the potential for misunderstanding and conflict is minimized.
2. Set Team Goals
Each collaborative team must have a clear purpose and achievable goals. To drive success, set measurable targets within defined time frames. The team needs to have a vision and a few achievable wins will create positive momentum. In conjunction with the team, regularly review targets and performance. An important team collaboration idea is to take every opportunity to celebrate success: this will encourage innovation and a sense of achievement.
3. Encourage Team-Building
Team-building activities ensure everyone gets to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere. It could be something simple like a team lunch outing, attending an industry event together or an after-work social gathering. Team-building activities help staff to build the social relationships that are the foundation of effective collaboration.
Forbes recently reported on software development company Linking Arts’ unique approach. They encourage collaborative team members to share their personal stories as a way of building camaraderie. According to Linking Arts’ staff member, Uchechi Kalu Jacobson, this is a powerful tool as it promotes understanding and empathy between team members and allows colleagues to understand each other’s “why”.
4. Promote Cohesion
A cohesive team is a more effective one. Each member needs to feel included and involved in the decision-making process. Team building activities will, of course, contribute to team cohesion. Further team collaboration ideas include a daily team huddle. This offers an opportunity for team members to discuss goals and objectives. As well as avoiding duplication of effort, it also means team members are on the same page. If geographical distance makes a real team huddle impossible, then have a virtual one instead! Use your intranet to set up a team chat so members can have that casual, daily interaction. In that same space, create dedicated project pages for status updates and related information.
5. Set Up Effective Internal Communication Channels
One of the most important team collaboration ideas is ensuring you have effective inter-office communication is what makes the difference between success and failure. And it’s up to you as the project leader or business owner to prioritize communications, and how best your team can liaise. Technology plays a big part here: the company intranet offers a range of possibilities. Let’s take, for example, the project team tasked with developing a new website. As well as instant messaging, you can set up a shared workspace on the intranet. Team members can brainstorm ideas, share insights, data, and information. And you can restrict access to team members only.
With more and more employees telecommuting, the intranet’s workspace means 24/7 remote access. So, team members can easily connect and collaborate regardless of location.
6. Leverage Team Members’ Strengths
Get to know the strengths of individual team members as this will help you optimize performance. Many companies now have built-out their internal staff directories to include employees’ skills and expertise to promote skills sharing outside of their own teams. It makes sense, for example, to have the super-organized Laurie from Accounts in charge of task management and workflow.
Some companies encourage team members to take a personality test such as Myers-Briggs, which are shared in a group discussion. Responsibilities and tasks are then assigned based on the results and the consensus of the group.
7. Have A Strong Leader
There’s no doubt effective team collaboration requires strong leadership. For Tastic Marketing’s Ryan Meghdies, as reported in Forbes, strong leadership goes hand-in-hand with effective collaboration. Fantastic leaders first determine the strengths of the team and then assign tasks and deadlines accordingly. Team members are then held to account by the leader for those responsibilities.
8. Create Adequate Structure
Being a strong leader also requires you to take a firm approach to structure. Provide meeting agendas and circulate them in advance to team members so they have the opportunity to prepare. During meetings – whether virtual or in-person – encourage all participants to contribute their ideas. Circulate timely minutes or action points in the intranet’s shared workspace. Ask questions to clarify understanding so that everyone is on the same page. These administrative tasks are essential to good communications and the smooth functioning of the collaborative team.
9. Have A System In Place For Conflict Management
Even those businesses that lead the way in effective team collaboration ideas sometimes experience disagreements or even conflicts. However, the most successful collaborative companies have systems in place to provide a quick resolution. Strong team leaders can role model the right behavior and the art of compromise. However, a written procedure for constructively resolving conflicts will assist in this task.
10. Create Time For Innovation
Some of the best business ideas have come about as a result of collaboration. There’s something in the group dynamic that stimulates creativity. Mark Zuckerberg created the prototype of Facebook by collaborating over many late nights with his college roommates. For teams to grow, they should be encouraged to brainstorm and share ideas in order to innovate and create.
One team collaboration idea growing in popularity is quarterly Team Innovations. This is where members present an original idea to the rest of the team – no matter how off-the-wall or zany the idea is. Members of the team discuss the merits of each idea and then select the winning idea which is put into action.
It allows colleagues to come together in a not-too-serious way and gives people the chance to share their ideas without any constraints such as budget or creativity.
11. Use Technology For Team Collaboration
Whether it’s a company intranet, collaboration tools, project management software or instant messaging apps, use technology to support collaboration. Cloud collaboration tools such as G Suite, Office 365, and Dropbox have made it much easier to collaborate on documents in real-time. While video conferencing tools, virtual meetings, and messaging apps allow teams to communicate regardless of physical location. In fact, nowadays it’s possible for teams to collaborate effectively without ever meeting up in person.
12. Celebrate Collaborative Successes
Another visible team collaboration idea is to formally celebrate the successes of collaborative-team working. Why not use the intranet’s newsfeed to publicize those successes? And use a variety of media to bring those success stories to life. Take your pick from videos, podcasts, newsletters, blogs or staff recognition schemes to hammer home the message that collaboration makes a difference.
You may also find that a welcome side-effect is an increase in your employee engagement rates. One of the main drivers for employee engagement is being recognized and rewarded for a job well done. So, take this opportunity to tick off two important corporate boxes at once.
13. Facilitate Collaboration With Spatial Planning
Thoughtful spatial planning in the workplace can facilitate team collaboration. Open-plan offices make it easier to reach out and connect with colleagues. And hot-desking is another popular option. Instead of sitting at the same desk next to the same colleague every day, employees move around and share desks. Hot-desking helps to break down that silo mentality and promotes good communication.
As a minimum, you should look to set up inviting spaces at work where colleagues can come together to collaborate. Breakout areas, couches, or even the local coffee shop allow for greater flexibility and a more relaxed working environment.
14. Lead By Example
Whether you are the business owner or a collaborative team leader, it’s important to lead by example. It’s your behavior and attitudes that will have the ultimate influence over the team’s mindset.
So, if you are a project leader, model the correct behaviors. Be open and honest and willing to compromise. Make sure everyone understands their role and the team’s goals. And put in place clear expectations and a robust structure to make it happen.
If you are the business owner, make sure the company culture supports team collaboration. According to Deloitte, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a well-defined company culture is important to business success. It’s up to you as the business leader to ensure the right structure, tools, processes, and expectations are in place for team collaboration.
15. Create A Central Team Collaboration Hub
These days, the company intranet has had a major makeover, and as such, has become fundamental to team collaboration. From open communication and dedicated project spaces through to calendar sharing and workflow management, an intranet can streamline information-sharing and more. Learn more about how an intranet can provide the backbone for team collaboration in your organization.