How to Foster Collaboration in the Workplace?

Football fans can always understand the importance of a team playing and collaboration more than anyone else on the planet. Now that UEFA Champions League had already started, and football clubs had invested hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the best players.

Why is collaboration so important when your team has the top-ranked players of the world? Simply because having eleven professional players without a collaboration plan on the ground is not that different from having eleven amateurs. Each one is a professional on their own, but this is not enough to win the championship. They have to coordinate their moves and combine their skills to increase their chances of winning. 

Similarly, all business owners and team managers are always looking to get the most out of their teams. This endeavor pushes them to hire talented individuals, who would obviously cost more than others. But in order to get the maximum results, you have to ensure a productive collaboration environment for your employees. 

Collaboration allows room for more creativity, more innovation. It saves resources, protects your team members from working in silos, improves the agility levels across departments, eliminates duplication of work, reduces risks by enabling flexibility against circumstances, and most important of all it increases the productivity of your team members. In this article, we are going to present 5 important tips about fostering a collaborative environment in the workspace.

Establish a climate that encourages collaboration 

Fostering collaboration starts with communication. Team leaders have to establish communication channels for team members.

Schedule recurring meetings and brainstorming sessions, encourage open discussions, organize team activities whether office-based or virtual. This will help you promote the idea of group work, solve problems together, and allow team members to connect. It will also incite them to talk to each other, express their points of view, conclude results on their own, and come out with mutually agreed solutions.

Encourage the atmosphere of help. Ask employees to reach out for help from each other, benefit from each other’s experiences, and share their skills and resources. It’s important to remember that getting help is normal and it helps prevent mistakes. You may also want to make sure your team does not work in silos.

Listen to your team and encourage them to listen to each other. Listening can be more important than speaking. It’s important to emphasize transparency and spread the spirit of equality to motivate your team to express themselves openly. 

Education will always be an important factor in communication. You may want to consider adopting the culture of working in the open where everyone shares the results of their work. This way, everyone can learn from each other’s victories and mistakes.

Keep an eye out for conflicts and resolve them quickly 

Conflict management is a part of every manager’s job description. Although you will never be able to fully prevent disputes between employees, you can still resolve them and benefit from them positively. People have a different understanding of things, different points of view, personal life effects, stress, and many other factors that could raise a conflict between them. Your role as a team leader is to actively manage these situations. If the conflicts remain unresolved, it will lead to tension and affect the productivity of the collaborative environment you are building for your team.

Some minor disputes can happen, and your employees can work things out on their own. When bigger conflicts show up however, the magic words would be, collaborate and communicate. Gather the parties, have them speak up about the problem from how they see it. You may not want to take sides. The key is for the parties to reach a mutual understanding towards the benefit of the company. Sometimes when people get in disputes, they stop listening to each other, and all they need is someone to build the bridge and allow more space for a productive conversation.

Conflict resolution in the workplace

There are dangerous conflicts that will have you make a decision on your own to save the vision of the company. Only in this case, you will get everyone to stop the negative talk and contribute with your own plan or solution in order to keep things moving forward. Being patient is important, but sometimes you have to take urgent actions to correct the course of how things are going.

Learning is an ongoing process. It’s important to learn from each conflict. A good way to do so is to have a meeting. You can summarize the reasons behind the conflict and how it was resolved. You can also discuss what the team can do to prevent it from happening in the future. This could form some kind of practical laws for the company controlling the everyday processes.

As we speak about conflict management you might be thinking about the possibility of solving problems with virtual teams. You don’t need to worry about that because with modern technology you can have the right tools to efficiently manage your team in all circumstances. Nowadays remote work is no different than office work and even has more advantages for business owners and managers.

Encourage cross-departmental interactions

Creating a team with diverse skill sets is the dream of every company’s manager. A place where all the skills and resources of various teams will be used to achieve company-wide goals and objectives. The old model of processing tasks across departments was the input-output model, where the input of each department is the output of the other. No interactions, and no communication at all. This has changed a lot, and in order to succeed in today’s world of business, organizations should encourage cross-departmental communication. The new model pictures departments as crossed circles with a common goal in the middle.

Encouraging interactions between departments isn’t that easy. Usually, people from different departments look at the same things from different perspectives. You can’t assume that financial accountants will address issues the same way the advertisement team or the designer will. However, their differences can compliment each other and together make a positive impact. 

How collaboration among departments takes place

For example, your company wants to launch a seasonal advertising campaign. Look at how everyone thinks about it:

  • Accountants think about the cost, and they want to control the budgets wisely
  • Creative designers care about the overall image of the campaign when launched
  • The sales team want something practical that would generate sales and commissions
  • Legal want something clear of any intellectual property issues to avoid future claims

Just seeing these 4 different points of view makes it so clear why you need to push your teams to interact more. The results will be outstanding if teams of different departments listened to each other, and shared their ideas within their scope of their expertise.

Cross-functional teams often fail because the organization lacks a systemic approach. Teams are hurt by unclear governance, by a lack of accountability, by goals that lack specificity, and by organizations’ failure to prioritize the success of cross-functional projects.” – Benham Tabrizi, Stanford University.

Nowadays this is more possible than before with modern technology that allows building collaborative environments. Allowing real-time collaboration, interactive communication tools, and functional sharing features. This is the future of business, and it is your chance to make use of it before your competitors do.

Clear vision, mission, and objectives

A company’s vision is a statement describing what the company is working to become in the future. You can keep encouraging your team about working collaboratively all day long, but you will never get anywhere with them without a clear vision. This will make them feel part of something bigger. Only then will they start thinking of each other’s success as a success for the whole company instead of just working to achieve personal victories. 

When working on a project, each department has its own goals. This is important to keep things moving forward, but it’s not enough. The general goal of the company is the actual driver of motivation. It’s important for the employees to know where the company is going and what they are working towards. This will give them the purpose behind getting together and interacting with each other, and this is the main aspect of collaborative environments.

Core values are a combination of fundamental beliefs that individuals have to accept and work under in order to reach a common goal. Communicating your company’s core values with your team is as important as setting these catchy statements. You may want to make time regularly to remind them about it, and show them how their individual actions are affecting the overall journey of the company. 

Using technology to scale collaboration

The 3 main factors of a collaborative working environment are the individuals, the processes, and the technology. Having skilled professionals and detailed processes won’t be enough without implementing the right tool to help maintain a sustainable business model. Investing in the right technology to bring your team together is very important to foster collaboration.

Collaboration platforms increase the efficiency of individuals by encouraging innovation and creativity, allow for proactive communication in the company with modern chatting and conferencing tools, track progress in real-time across multiple projects, connect different teams all around the world, organize resources sharing with layered access and authorizations, and much more. These platforms might look similar to each other, but in fact, that would only apply to their basic services. Meanwhile, the add-ons are what sets them apart. 

Collaboration enhancement tools

Take SalesTim as an example. It’s a collaboration management app that takes collaborative work to a whole new level. A new experience developed to fit in all industries with flexible Collaboration Templates, workflow Governance Policies, and Integration capabilities. It offers a wide range of solutions as well as professional implementation services. Our team will hold your hand through the steps and will go over your business details with a fine-tooth comb to provide the perfect collaborative solution.

Wondering how to templatize your business processes?

Download our step-by-step guide on how to create Collaboration Templates for Microsoft Teams

While you might need some guidance when it comes to implementing a collaborative system in your company, nBold will make things easy for you with its simplicity. Turn your workflows into templates, define your own set of governance rules, and much more. Talk to our team to learn more.

Final thoughts

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and in today’s business world, effective collaboration is the main key to success. You can’t just rely on having a good product or service to offer. The business model you follow in your company has become a competitive factor. Follow the tips we showed in this article, consider implementing a proper technology solution to enhance collaboration, and check out our blog posts for more information about collaborative environment workspaces.

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