The way we work and interact has been greatly impacted over the past few months, as more and more companies have adapted their practices in an effort to mitigate the spread of Covid 19. Most notably, working remotely, and mastering skills needed for effective collaboration have skyrocketed.
More than ever before, the success of each and every individual on a team is highly dependent on how well we can collaborate with others. Regardless of how established your company is, the size of it, or the type of company you work for, understanding a few basic rules of effective collaboration could be exactly what you and your team need to remain innovative, capable of accomplishing goals, and achieving long term success. Check out the skills needed for effective collaboration, and the best practices and tips for effective collaboration.
Skills needed for effective collaboration
What does it really mean to collaborate with others in the workplace? How do you balance individual team members’ set of responsibilities, as well as elements that require collaboration with multiple team members in order to execute projects? In short, we require a completely different type of teamwork, a different perspective on what it means to collaborate, and rules of effective collaboration.
Establishing collaboration in the workplace sets the tone and forms an actionable plan moving forward. ESI International’s research report found 65.5% of workers believe that their organization’s project performance would benefit from learning, skills needed for effective collaboration, and effective collaboration tools. Over 80% of people required help with communications, while just under 50% required help with leadership or critical thinking skills. The key to improving these skills? Companies that provide creativity and collaboration training.
So what are collaborative skills? Basically, they are the foundation that ensures people can work well together.
Here are a few ways that collaborative skills can be fostered and developed in a professional setting:
The right fit
We hear companies throw around the term the “right fit” for their company or workplace a lot these days. When it comes to effective collaboration, hiring a group of talented and skilled team members is a given, but one of the most important rules of effective collaboration is ensuring team members that work well together. Collaborative work benefits from a team that has complementary skills and innate talent. It’s much easier to teach a cooperative, and willing team member a skill than it is to force people to collaborate and communicate. If you have a talented team member that cannot work with others or share their ideas effectively, it will likely be less successful. Team members that get along and effectively communicate will increase the chances of having a team that brings brilliant and unique perspectives to a project. Team members that believe in the vision of the company and share similar values are going to create a better and stronger team. They will be more likely to work well with one another too!
Positive interactions and healthy connections go a very long way when establishing collaboration in the workplace. Encouraging each and every member of the team to share their ideas and perspective increases innovation and creativity. When everyone feels included and heard, it will increase a sense of trust and respect among the team. When team members feel a strong sense of unity, caring and appreciation for one another, they have the foundational skills required for positive conflict resolution, as well as deeper, and more vulnerable problem solving and conversations. Furthermore, team members are happier, more productive, and capable of empathizing with their team members. When a team has a strong foundation as human beings, and not just coworkers, it builds trust and a willingness to share ideas freely. Feeling included really helps break down barriers and fear of being judged or having an idea rejected. Instead, an inclusive environment builds trust and fosters innovation. Encourage team bonding, clearly establish each member’s responsibilities, and communicate expectations to promote an inclusive environment.
A clear guiding vision and purpose
Perhaps you’ve heard the parable of the three bricklayers, all working on the same project. When the first bricklayer is asked what he is doing, he answers “I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer’s response is, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.” However, the third bricklayer, who is also the most productive and the future leader of the group, declares, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.” The purpose of this parable is to convey the idea that people are motivated and inspired to be part of something greater than just themselves. An essential skill for effective collaborative work is being able to see beyond the initial hang ups or problems. A clear vision or purpose can help team members work through frustrations as a team. Storytelling and a greater purpose will help engage the hearts and minds of your team, so that they are invested in the bigger picture. So whether you’re part of a team, or leading a team, take the time to truly understand the bigger vision and purpose.
Clear communication, expectations, and objectives
Once you have a clear purpose, it’s essential that you know exactly what is expected of you and your team members. Start with a purpose statement for collaboration and define expectations, milestones, roles, responsibilities, and deliverables will help ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives. When each member of the team has a clearly defined role, it’s easier to work effectively, and avoid accidentally stepping on another person’s toes or unintentionally creating bottlenecks within the project.
Structure and resources
It’s not enough to hire or be part of a great team. There needs to be structure and resources too. By providing the resources needed, and having enough guidance to enable learning, communication, and collaboration will follow more naturally. A team that feels they have zero support from the management level, structure, or resources to pull upon are more likely to fail. This also includes coaching or training sessions to improve teamwork, emotional intelligence, or navigating difficult conversations.
Tips for effective collaboration and remote working
Collaboration, speed, effective communication, and consistency are essential components of any successful project. When considering rules of effective collaboration, it’s important to start with an inclusive space where everyone is open to the power of possibility and recognizing that successful collaboration is an iterative process. Team members need to know that every idea suggested will be respected, encouraged, and accepted. This level of trust ensures individuals work together and generate a wide variety of potential answers and solutions during collaborative brainstorming sessions.
Source: Brooke Cagle, Unsplashed
Once this is established, your meetings will be more effective and you can effectively incorporate the following into your collaborative workplace:
- Ask key questions
- Collaborate with others to assess multiple and differing perspectives
- Utilize the strengths of every team member
- Investigate unexpected areas
- Think outside the box to generate tons of innovative ideas and to build off of them
- Include and encourage obvious solutions so you can expand into more innovative and unknown possibilities
This increases the potential, uniqueness, and effectiveness of your solution. It also reminds team members that when one idea doesn’t succeed, it’s an opportunity to learn and return to the drawing board.
Connect regularly with team members to resolve misunderstandings, and explain complex ideas. If you’re working remotely, coordinate call times to accommodate different time zones, or schedule availabilities and ensure a system is in place that allows you and your team to easily stay in contact with everyone. This could be a series of Slack channels, or it could be daily, weekly, or monthly video conference meetings.
Building relationships and networking with individual members of your team is one of the top tips for effective collaboration. The occasional touchpoint here and there can greatly enhance how well and how in-sync you work with your team on a day-to-day basis. Any amount of time you spend with your team understanding how they work and communicate will help you build better relationships with your peers and feel more connected to your work community as a whole.
There’s tons of evidence to back-up the fact that working remotely significantly increases productivity. While paranoid managers worry that if employees are not monitored, they will slack off at home eating junk food and binge-watch their favorite Netflix series. However, the data, including a study conducted by Connect Solutions, proves quite the opposite is true.
Even before Covid 19, there was a rise in remote workers and remote teams. Many of them have been infinitely successful. However, the caveat of a successful team of remote workers is implementing effective collaboration tools and understanding the basic rules of effective collaboration.
Effective collaboration tools: CloudApp
Build prototypes, draw diagrams, or use platforms like CloudApp and other effective collaboration tools to share your work. The goal is to quickly convey the look, feel, and functionality of your design. In order for collaboration to run smoothly, it’s important not to spend too much time on prototypes as they will likely undergo a lot of changes. Keep in mind what you’re testing for and who you’re designing for to avoid becoming too emotionally attached or bias.
There are endless ways where CloudApp can enhance your organization’s development. We’re all familiar with the power and reach of social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, well CloudApp is the professional version. Keep everyone on the same page by utilizing the most effective collaboration tools. CloudApp offers a variety of features so you can create, annotate, and share screenshots, GIFs, video snippets, and screen recordings with others. It can also be easily integrated with several other platforms to increase productivity, and collaboration.
At CloudApp, we believe in listening to our users and doing our best to release features that our users really care about. Since the initial launch of CloudApp, we have received tons of feedback that has allowed us to create the ultimate collaboration software. As a result, CloudApp has evolved into an incredible platform that has truly revolutionized the way we communicate. As the way we learn, and interact within organizations become more geographically dispersed and technologically savvy, CloudApp continues to become an even more integral part of communication.