You know what they say…
"The team that collaborates together, stays together." Okay, maybe nobody says that, but they should! Team collaboration is a big deal. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to create environments where employees feel comfortable working together.
In this article, we'll explain exactly what team collaboration is and why it's important. Then we'll show you a simple four-step system you can use to foster team collaboration at your place of business.
Sound like a plan? Then let's dive in!
What is Team Collaboration?
According to Search HR Software, team collaboration is, "a communication and project management approach that emphasizes teamwork, innovative thinking, and equal participation to achieve objectives."
So basically, team collaboration is exactly what it sounds like: a group of individuals working together in the hope of achieving greater success than any one person could obtain on his or her own.
Why is Team Collaboration Important?
Now that we have a common understanding of what team collaboration is, let's talk about why it's important. There are three main benefits that collaborative teams experience. They are greater productivity, more innovation, and less staff turnover.
1. Greater Productivity
Can team collaboration really boost productivity? Absolutely! When team members work together successfully, they're able to capitalize on each other's strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. This allows projects to be completed faster.
Team collaboration software, which we'll discuss in much greater detail in a later section of this article, can also improve productivity by enabling employees to easily connect and share information with each other. Even if said employees happen to work in different locations.
2. More Innovation
Team collaboration breeds creativity and innovative ideas. It's almost inevitable. When you get multiple minds working on the same projects, differing thoughts and viewpoints will emerge. Just make sure that your team is equipped to handle any potential conflicts in a healthy way.
Pro Tip: It's important that team leaders allow their teams to experiment and release their inner creatives — within reason, of course. This is usually how the best ideas are stumbled upon. Who knows? An hour or two exploring outside the box ideas may lead to your company's next big innovation
3. Less Staff Turnover
Lastly, effective team collaboration often leads to less staff turnover. It's not surprising, collaborating consistently helps employees build relationships with each other. It also helps them feel valued because they know they bring a specific skill set to their team.
Why would a team member leave a job which they enjoy performing and gives them purpose? Most of the time they won't. If you want to boost team morale and employee retention, investing in effective workplace collaboration is a solid strategy.
4 Steps to Improve Team Collaboration at Your Company
Ready to improve team collaboration at your place of business? Below is a proven four-step system that you can follow. Once each of these steps have been taken, you can begin to incorporate a few team collaboration best practices, which we'll cover in a later section.
1. Make Team Collaboration a Priority
First things first, team collaboration needs to be a priority or your employees will never truly succeed at working together — at least not consistently.
If you're not the top decision-maker at your organization, go to the person who is and explain the benefits of team collaboration. When you have the support of top executives, it will be much easier to change company policies, invest in collaboration software, or anything else you might have to do to get your team collaborating.
Once executive buy-in has been achieved, it's time to lead by example. If you refuse to collaborate, so will your team.
You can do this by sharing company information with employees (when appropriate), creating a safe atmosphere for people to share their ideas, and encouraging team members to work together. All of these things will help your staff develop trust, which is essential for true team collaboration to happen.
2. Set Clear Team Collaboration Goals
This step is often overlooked. But if you really want to succeed at team collaboration, you need to set clear goals and make sure each of your employees understands them. What are you hoping to gain by collaborating and how do you plan to work together?
We suggest making team collaboration goals with your team, rather than simply adopting predefined objectives made by upper management. In fact, this is a fantastic first team collaboration project to complete. It will make your employees feel valued and purposeful. It will also help you better understand what's feasible for your team.
3. Use the Right Team Collaboration Tools
Okay, by now you should have made team collaboration a priority and outlined a few goals you hope to achieve. Good job, but the work isn't done yet. The next step is to choose and invest in the right team collaboration tools.
There are plenty on the market. The five below are some of our favorites. Each also fulfills a specific role for your team. We encourage you to try them out.
First we have Trello, a project management app that keeps teams on track and allows them to communicate effectively. It's an intuitive platform that's structured in a very visual way. Team leads create boards, which can be divided into column-like lists. Cards containing due dates, attachments, and chat areas can then be added and freely moved from one list to another.
For example, I could create a board and name it, "Company Blog" in order to keep track of my organization's content creation efforts. I could then create four lists, one for each stage in the blog creation process, and name them, "Blog Ideas," "Writing," "Editing," and "Published."
Finally, I'd create cards for every blog post idea I could think of, select due dates to each of them, and assign them to different members of my team. As posts were written, I'd move each card into the list that corresponds with its level of completion.
All in all, Trello is a wonderful project management and team collaboration app that lets employees easily communicate and complete tasks.
You've probably heard of Slack, even if you've never used it yourself. It's an incredibly popular workplace chat app that allows for easy team collaboration.
Conversations inside Slack can be organized into channels representing different company departments, projects, clients, or anything else. Unlike long email chains, users can choose to leave or join conversations at any time. The team collaboration app also has a searchable history features which allows users to easily relocate vital information from past chats.
But Slack is more than just a glorified text message machine. Users can communicate via voice and video chat as well and even share files like photos and videos. And just to make sure that your team collaboration efforts never hit a snag, Slack integrates with other popular tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Trello.
Highfive has completely reimagined video conferencing and created tools that make virtual meetings much less of a hassle than they used to be. It all starts with the company's aversion to limits. Highfive users can host an unlimited amount of meetings and meetings can last for an unlimited amount of time.
This team collaboration software has also done away with tedious pin codes. Team members simply "show up" to the virtual meeting and participate.
As remote work continues to become more and more popular, apps like Highfive allow companies to stay connected and collaborate effectively — no matter where in the world its employees happen to be.
We should mention that Highfive also creates video conferencing hardware. If your organization hosts virtual meetings on a regular basis, you may want to consider investing in high quality sound and video equipment to ensure your meetings are enjoyable for your team.
G Suite is a team collaboration suite that features communication, document creation, and file storage tools, as well as many others. Famous apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive are a part of the suite as are lesser known solutions like Sheets, Calendar, and Hangouts. All together, there are 19 apps in the G Suite.
Teams can use G Suite to collaborate with each other on documents, speak via email or video chat apps, share and store company files, sync calendars, and so much more.
It's a fantastic collection of team collaboration resources and can be had for very reasonable prices. We definitely suggest giving G Suite a try.
And finally, we have CloudApp, a visual video collaboration tool that combines webcam and screen recording, GIF creation, and image annotation features into one intuitive interface.
Let's say you work in your company's marketing department and need to contact Jim, a content writer who works remotely. He asked you to read over his latest blog post and give him feedback. You could write Jim a long email explaining what you would change about the piece. Or, you could fire up CloudApp and quickly shoot a video of yourself speaking your mind.
Which sounds easier?
How about another example? Shelly, a graphic designer, just sent you cover ideas for a new ebook. The art looks great, but you have a few edits you'd like her to make. Would you rather send another tedious email and hope that you've made your points in a clear fashion? Or quickly annotate the cover with arrows and text explaining exactly what you want changed?
That's the power of CloudApp. It allows users to communicate quicker and more clearly, which boosts productivity and employee satisfaction.
4. Optimize Your Team Collaboration Efforts
Once you have your goals and team collaboration tools in place, it's time to start collaborating. Depending on the nature of your team, this may be a struggle at first. We encourage you to stick with it! Collaboration becomes easier with experience.
But we need to stress the importance of optimization, especially during the early stages of your team collaboration efforts. You may introduce new policies or adopt new software solutions that don't end up working out. That's okay as long as you adjust accordingly.
The truth is, team collaboration is a constant learning experience. New team members and projects may force you and your employees to "re-learn" how to work together. The key is keeping the right mindset, treating each other with respect, and staying committed to team collaboration.
3 Team Collaboration Best Practices
The four-step system above will get you up and running when it comes to improving team collaboration at your company. But to really push things over the top, keep these team collaboration best practices in mind?
1. Know Your Team
You'll only be able to encourage your team to collaborate effectively if you understand the way that each member ticks. What strengths and weaknesses does each of them have? And how can you maximize every strength while minimizing each weakness?
It's also important to realize that you may have some employees who both prefer working alone and produce better results that way. While you probably don't want to completely excuse them from your team collaboration efforts, you do need to accommodate varying personalities.
It may be a balancing act, but it's definitely worth the extra hassle. Remember, happy team members are more productive and loyal.
2. Recognize Extraordinary Results
We always recommend recognizing extraordinary results, but it's especially important when team members collaborate. It will reinforce the idea that teamwork pays off. It will also give your employees something to celebrate together, thereby strengthening the bonds between co-workers.
If you're new to the employee recognition game, you may be wondering how to effectively recognize your team. You could just keep it simple and announce, in front of the rest of your department, that a specific team achieved amazing results.
Or you could get a bit fancier and implement an entire employee recognition strategy. There are plenty of apps to help you do this and the results of such strategies are often very positive.
3. Make Team Collaboration Fun
Last but not least, we encourage you to make team collaboration fun for your employees. If they enjoy working together, they'll do it more often.
So what can you do to make collaboration enjoyable? Investing in the right tools (like we mentioned above) will help. But if you really want to think outside the box, you could offer different rewards for effective team collaboration.
You could also host "outside-of-work" hangouts so that your team can interact in more natural ways and build friendships. Friends collaborate much more fluidly than strangers.
Become a Team Collaboration Master in 2020
Team collaboration is important. Employees that understand how to work together effectively are often more productive and creative and have higher retention rates. Just follow the four-step system listed above and you'll have your team collaborating in no time!
But remember, modern team collaboration is made possible by innovative and intuitive software solutions. That's why we recommend CloudApp. Our tool gives users access to screen and webcam recording, GIF creation, and screen annotation features.
Give CloudApp a try for FREE today and experience it's team collaboration powers for yourself!