Imagine if you took the best parts of each team member and made one superstar. You might take Tom’s smarts, combine it with Renee’s empathy, add a dash of Joe’s writing skills and top it off with Tina’s sales ability. With a person like that working for you, your company would be unstoppable! Of course this person might come out a little funny looking…
The truth is you don’t need some Weird Science experiment to get more from your team. You can get more from your team when they work more together.When ideas, and communication crosses department and even business unit boundaries there are terrific opportunities for innovation. Just imagine the impact that would have on your company!
Team Collaboration can mean a lot of things – from overhearing a co-worker who’s struggling with a piece of software and walking over to show them an easier tool; to researchers sharing their best ideas to see if they can learn from each other’s discovery, and everything in between. But getting people to work together is more art than science.
Five Steps for Greater Team Collaboration
- Set the stage.
In order to get people working together, and more importantly sharing their best ideas and innovations, you have to have a culture that values the team above the individual, that respects ideas no matter where they come from, and where listening is valued. These are the baseline. Without respect, team orientation and listening it’s difficult to get anyone to share anything.
- Create the space.
Once we have the psychic space, we need to address the physical space.Collaboration happens best when it “just happens”. Chance encounters, overheard conversations, and hallway meetings produce more innovation and collaboration than 1000 “brainstorming sessions”. How can you locate your team in such a way to promote those chance encounters? Maybe it’s not the physical office; there are lots of online tools for knowledge sharing and collaboration that can facilitate it too.
- Celebrate a good thing.
When you start to see results from the collaboration, celebrate that by sending out a note recognizing the team members who took a risk, celebrating the results they achieved and holding them up as examples to follow. When you do this it gives you the opportunity to reinforce the values of respect, team orientation and listening too!
- Stir the pot.
Once you’ve got collaboration started, don’t let it grow stale. People tend to collaborate more with folks they know, like and trust. So mix up your teams a bit; invite marketing folks to your production meeting. Send the whole office out for drinks or to a bowling alley. Create some social or team building event that requires folks to work with teams that they wouldn’t ordinarily connect with. The more that people have positive experiences with one another, the more likely they are to collaborate.
- Provide the Tools
Encourage them even further by providing visual collaboration tools built for teams. From diagram software like Creately to task management tools like Asana there are hundreds of product that encourage collaboration. Features like real-time collaboration makes working together fun and productive increasing the likely-hood of people working together.
Now it’s your turn! What ideas do you have to improve team collaboration? Let me know in the comments below!
About The Author: Brad Farris works for EnMast. They help small businesses get on the right track with tools and processes that are built for success.