7 Tips for More Effective Collaboration

Good collaboration fosters higher employee engagement, efficiencies and productivity. If you want to attract and retain good employees, having a collaborative culture is critical. Use these tips for more effective collaboration.

1. Know your team.

  • When you have a new project, look at what each person can contribute in terms of both soft and hard skills when putting together a team.
  • Share that information with everyone so they know what each person can contribute and what’s expected of them.
  • Make sure there’s a personal element to build camaraderie. Include opportunities to socialize and have a “getting to know each other” session.
  • Find out how each person likes to communicate, and how they best communicate. (These might not be the same thing.)
    • If one person prefers chat to email, make that known.
    • If someone has a tendency to write long emails that no one reads, ask them to hold a quick videoconference instead.

2. Set clear goals and objectives.

  • Everyone should understand the purpose and vision behind the project.
  • Goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).
  • Invite people to estimate how long their own work will take so goal setting is collaborative.
  • Set milestones to measure progress against goals along the way.
  • Make sure each person knows how their own contribution will be measured.
  • Encourage questions and transparency along the way. Build in feedback systems.

3. Emphasize clear communications.

  • Good communication prevents confusion, conflict and resentment. Someone shouldn’t be surprised by a deadline they didn’t know about or something they were supposed to do differently.
  • Don’t confuse brevity with clarity. This is especially important for remote workers who can’t pop into a cubicle to ask quick questions.
  • Encourage more phone calls and videoconferences versus emails. We all have too much email.
  • Create some guidelines up front, with team input:
    • Is there a meeting schedule? Do we need to publish agendas in advance?
    • How to report progress and how often
    • Which portals to use for what – email, chat, project management software, etc.
    • This is great to have documented if you add new members to the team.

4. Lead by example.

  • Executive and managers have to act and communicate collaboratively.
  • Take responsibility for mistakes or errors. This goes for everyone.
  • Never assign blame – it’s a huge demotivator. Talk about what didn’t work and fix it.
  • Be adaptable. If something needs to change, change it. You can always change it again.
  • Inaction can be a huge demotivator. If you can’t make a change people have discussed, make sure everyone understands why.
  • If you or someone else needs training in soft skills (like collaboration) or hard skills, get it for them.

5. Learn to compromise.

  • Be open minded and stay open to new ideas, even if you’re repeating a project that you’ve done before. Different perspectives are a bonus, not a challenge to your authority.
  • Put feedback channels in place and be a good listener.
    • Don’t just send out a survey, conduct one-on-one conversations.
    • Check in periodically with everyone. Even if you tell people you’re always open to suggestions, folks won’t always come forward unless prompted.
  • Always be considerate and respectful when responding. Think carefully on what should or should not be a public response.
    • People have different levels of sensitivity. Some people might see even the slightest negative amplified if said in front of others.
    • Peer recognition is important to people, but public shaming is horrible.
  • Be ready to compromise. Even if you have a clear plan in your head, you can almost always find a way to incorporate other’s suggestions.
    • If one person is running the show, that’s project management, not collaboration.

6. Leverage collaboration tools.

WebEx hybrid work research showed employees want better tech at work and at home:

  • 94% of employees want tools to improve their meeting experience at home
  • 96% need intelligent workplace tech to improve work environments

A Gartner Survey shows nearly 80% of workers are using collaboration tools for work in 2021

  • Make sure everyone has access to any apps you’re using – MS Teams, Slack, etc.
  • Get them webcams, faster internet, VPNs, etc. – whatever they need to collaborate.
  • Get them training on these platforms.

In a study by Knoll, they found “employees increasingly desire social connection and engagement as part of their collaborative experience.” Collaboration apps can help.

  • Make sure everyone uses cameras on all meetings – it really makes a difference.
    • Make time for socializing in every interaction (can be brief).
    • Build in some fun and some “getting to know you” activities .

7. Celebrate success.

  • Employee recognition is a huge motivator. According to surveys:
    • 44% of employees switch jobs because of not getting adequate recognition for their efforts.
    • 52% of employees want more recognition from their immediate manager.
  • Set up a trophy, stars or award system. Gamify it if you can.
  • Recognize both individual and team achievements.
  • Show real outcomes of achievements, not just that a task was completed.
    • Example: Instead of “we moved 120 clients to our new support portal”, show “our customer satisfaction rating has increased by 25% since we’ve moved 120 clients to our new support portal”.
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