Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Have you been struggling to maintain a productive, forward-looking culture among your team members? Do you find it difficult to manage frictions in the workplace? And how consistent are staff members in working together and achieving the same goals in your organization?
These questions all point to one thing - team collaboration. It is as crucial to the success of any organization as the individual strength of each staff member. Until each team player is able to work together with a team of other experts to achieve a common business goal, your business may continue to experience hiccups and drawbacks when it comes to hitting your goals.
In this post, we’ll discuss team collaboration in further detail and show you how to build a collaborative team in your office.
What is Team Collaboration?
Team collaboration simply refers to when team members work together on the same project, process, and assignments, to achieve a common goal, rather than working individually. For instance, in a brainstorming session, each team member contributes their idea towards a particular project. Similarly, when the company needs to introduce a new product to the market, each team member involved in the development of the product is given the opportunity to contribute in one way or another towards designing and finishing the product.
Each member brings their individual skills, experience, and insights to each process. It is the unique skill set of these people that make team collaboration a breeze. However, keep in mind that team collaboration is a little different from teamwork. In teamwork, there’s usually a leader, whereas that is not always the case in team collaboration.
Also, team collaboration focuses on utilizing group effort to execute a task. Teamwork, on the other hand, means a situation where each team member has their specification responsibility in the organization, although they still contribute to the overall goal of the team or company.
Essential collaboration skills
Team collaboration requires time and effort to build in many cases. The aim is to nurture and encourage collaboration at work while allowing each person to express their competencies in their specific roles. Team collaboration skills can be broadly categorized into three main categories:
Communication skills: The importance of communication cannot be overemphasized when it comes to building team collaboration. When teams are not in constant communication with each other, chances are, the goals of the organization will begin to have different interpretations, leading to frictions, delays, and loss of revenue. Besides, communication helps team members keep track of the activities of other team members.
Emotional intelligence: It is often said that relating with people requires one to have peoples’ skills. It takes emotional intelligence to develop such skills. But the most important part is that emotional intelligence is key to working with a diverse group of people, especially if you want to achieve the organization's business goals. Emotional intelligence helps you respond intelligently to criticism, communicate with empathy and compassion, and manage your own emotions in the workplace.
Respect for diversity: Finally, you want to be able to foster a culture that promotes diversity in the workplace. There are many ways that diversity and inclusion can benefit every organization, and promoting team collaboration is one of them. But it also works the other way round, i.e., team collaboration also promotes diversity since every member is given equal opportunity to contribute to the growth of the team. When each employee respects the diversity of other team players, it helps in fostering a collaborative culture.
In addition to these, being open-minded to collaboration, ensuring accountability, and utilizing a centralized work tool, such as collaboration software, can help you set the atmosphere for building team collaboration.
Benefits of Team Collaboration
A team with a high level of collaboration can expect to see the following results:
Good problem-solving potential
Perhaps, the biggest benefit of good team collaboration is being able to bring together many experts to work on the same problem. Each person brings a unique perspective and solution to the table. If you observe closely, you’ll realize that teams like this are able to resolve issues faster and more efficiently.
Like we mentioned above, collaboration gives team members an equal opportunity to share ideas and perspectives on some issues, helping them to understand and respect the diversity of their team better. Diversity, on the other hand, is often indicative of a highly efficient and forward-thinking organization.
Employees feel valued and happier at work
Given the opportunity to make an equal impact in an organization, almost everyone will be happy. Everyone likes their voice to be heard, even though they may not be very expressive about their opinions. By the way, happy employees make a successful organization.
Collaborative teams have broader perspectives
Did you know that knowledge sharing is greatest when teams collaborate with minimal friction at work? Imagine you have a project management team consisting of engineers, data scientists, accountants, HR professionals, etc. Each individual will most likely come up with a solution for their team's problem based on their experience and skill set. Now, when they share these ideas, it creates an opportunity to explore different possibilities, which in the long run, allows for problems to be solved faster and efficiently.
5 Practical Ways to Build Team Collaboration
1. Establish reasons/goals for team collaboration
What do your organization and employees stand to benefit by collaborating? What are you hoping to achieve? When you bring seemingly unrelated teams together to work on common goals, you need to help see reasons why they need to work together. This objective makes it easier for them to find common ground that promotes collaboration and constructive criticism.
2. Define roles and responsibilities
The good thing about having a collaborative team is that everyone has a part to play, so no one is lost or just floating in the mix. Ensuring that each team member has a clear understanding of their part in the project makes it easier to achieve your goals.
3. Lead by example
If you want to see results from your employees and each collaborating team, you must be ready to lead by example. Some team members may not even see the value or follow suit until they see involvement from top management. It is, in fact, easier to establish team collaboration when you model it for your employees so they can see how to do it.
4. Set Standards
Unless the process is defined, it will be challenging to achieve cohesion and collaboration. Setting standards might involve defining how and when to assign tasks, prepare and send reports, or maybe, the type of software to use. The goal here is to ensure that there is a process and a structure and that everyone understands how to use them.
5. Use collaboration tools
Team collaboration sounds a bit far-fetched when you think of all the things you need to do to make it work. However, it can be a lot easier even, thanks to several team collaboration tools available today. Asana, Slack, Clockify, Dropbox, Zendesk are just a few of them. These tools make for easy sharing of information and documents, assigning and managing tasks, communications, and even scheduling meetings.
Building team collation allows you to improve the productivity of your organization, as employees and different teams can provide different perspectives to problem-solving. However, building team collaboration takes a bit of time and effort, so you want to keep at it until you begin to see the results, which in the long run, would pay off.