How to get your teams collaborating effectively

Project kick off

It’s often something we don’t think about enough in the workplace, but collaboration is crucial for your team to achieve its goals. Actor and singer, Justin Timberlake described it as allowing us to “take our talents and pool them together to create something greater than we could ever achieve alone.”

He’s not wrong. Together we can always achieve far more than we can on our own - particularly when it comes to high-demanding business goals. Let’s look at how we can get your team working together more effectively.

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Defining collaboration

So, you may be thinking, what exactly do we mean by collaboration? Isn’t it obvious? Well, yes and no. Yes, it's all about working together towards a common goal, but in a business setting that can be more complicated than “here’s the goal, let’s achieve it”. When your team is collaborating effectively, everyone is on the same page - from scheduling regular chats to planning ahead - it all leads to more efficient and successful outcomes.

It might sometimes feel that you’re always banging the same drum, but clear communication and being clear on shared goals are key to effective collaboration. It's important everyone knows both what the goal is and their role in achieving it. This way, everyone is working towards the same end result and no one is left feeling confused, stressed or burnt out.

Now, here’s the bit about collaboration being a little more complicated than you think. There are different ways your team can work that you need to get your head around. This includes internal collaboration (working with your colleagues) and external collaboration (working with outside organizations or individuals). Both types of collaboration are important and can bring unique benefits to your team. For instance, working with external agencies require a greater deal of planning ahead but provides insights you may not have thought of. Understanding these different types can help you determine which approach is best for you.

How to set up a collaborative environment

Let’s start with understanding the difference between a physical and virtual environment for collaboration.

You may work in a global workplace, planning remote meetings. Even though your team might spend most of their time completely apart, sometimes it’s useful to get everyone together. When you do, what should that space look like? The design of your workspace can actually impact collaboration among your team members. For example, if you’re trying to cramp everyone around a small table in a busy coffee shop where people can’t hear each other - your team won’t get much done. A well-designed workspace can create a more open and inclusive environment, which can encourage collaboration.

If your team is working remotely you need to consider what technology is going to make the process easier. With so many tools available, you need to make sure you pick the right ones. Doodle, for instance, can help you arrange group meetings in minutes when you need to check in on how a project is going. Research and choose the right tools for your team, ensuring everyone is trained on how to use them.

Regardless of whether you are working in person or remotely, it’s essential you create an open, inclusive and supportive work environment. Encourage open communication, listen to feedback from your team and celebrate successes together. These small steps can go a long way in fostering a great collaborative culture.

Remote working Graphic (green grid)
Encouraging collaboration 

Leadership plays a big role in fostering collaboration. As a leader, you’re the one that needs to set the tone for and encourage open communication. Get your team to share their ideas, feel confident about speaking out in meetings and provide constructive feedback - good or bad - to each another. A lot of this can come from how you present yourself. Be open, approachable and don’t dismiss everything readily out of hand. You’ll be surprised at how much your team will pick up on that positive attitude.

Think creatively about team building exercises - especially when a team is coming together for the first time or new members join. Get people talking to each other and building a relationship. Also, don’t underestimate regular check-ins to ensure everyone is on the same page. Many leaders use Booking Page to keep their door open for their team to grab time with them.

No matter how big or small, recognition and rewards are powerful motivators for collaboration. When your team feels valued for their contributions, they are more likely to continue collaborating effectively. So, make sure to give credit where credit is due. A good way to do this is to add time to your meeting agenda. That couple of minutes at the start or end of a meeting will make a lot of difference.

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Overcoming barriers 

So it might not come as a surprise from what we’ve already discussed, but the biggest challenge to collaboration is poor communication. There are lots of things you can do to overcome this and get everyone on the same page. Have a Slack channel where people can share updates, use a ticketing system so people can see when tasks related to their work are complete and make sure you’re scheduling regular team meetings. 

It’s not always obvious when you’re leading a team but a lack of trust among colleagues can cause major problems that start small and build. You need to create a safe and supportive work environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with everyone. Discourage people from micromanaging tasks and get them to ask for help when needed. Use a scheduling app for business like Doodle to arrange regular meetings, keep track of progress and stop little issues from growing.

Finally, conflicting schedules and deadlines can also pose a challenge to effective collaboration. Doodle is a great availability tracker to let everyone know who’s free to get together when issues need to be talked through. 

So, just like Justin worked with NSYNC to achieve some amazing hits in the 90s and 00s, you can work with your team to collaborate and smash your business goals each and every time.

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