Guest Author: Lance Cody-Valdez
Every leader seeks to increase open communication, honesty, and collaboration within their team. Today, this is even more top of mind. The research built around a survey of over 61,000 employees carried out by Microsoft and LinkedIn explains how the increase in remote work due to the pandemic caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed. If you find it challenging to influence your team to work together in light of remote-first and hybrid workplaces, continue reading to learn how to plan and maintain team collaboration in a growing asynchronous workplace.
Why Is Collaboration Important?
From elementary school into adulthood, we learn to share and articulate ideas, and phrase words kindly to connect with each other. Collaboration can be forced, but ideally, it is encouraged and fostered by encouraging morale and an open flow of communication. According to KissFlow, collaboration is the heart of a business and is the key factor in achieving workplace success.
The real benefits of team collaboration, however, take time and effort to realize within any workplace. Often these soft skills are overlooked in the hiring process, or difficult to assess within the context of the team, and need to be cultivated over time. Problem-solving, adaptability, open communication, knowledge sharing, goal setting and alignment, and employee engagement are just a few of the benefits of workplace collaboration.
If you’re thinking about this topic and need to kick-start improvements, read on for some impactful suggestions that can be implemented right away.
3 Intra-Company Collaboration Boosters
According to Harvard Business Review, corporate culture can become a liability if not addressed and managed. They reference United Minds’ research, conducted in partnership with KRC Research, explaining that just 28% of employees strongly agree that there is alignment between their company’s actions and its stated values. Therefore, asking employees to collaborate differently requires that leaders create methods that are in line with the company’s values and encourage employees to share their ideas.
1. Create an Open Culture
Fostering a great company culture is often seen as an elusive goal for leaders, but it doesn’t have to be a mystery. Start with a company climate assessment by arranging a meeting in which employees can speak their minds, or, if you think this may prove to be too intimidating, you may set up an old-fashioned suggestion box where employees can anonymously point out cultural aspects that need improvement.
It’s important to create collaboration opportunities as well. One way to improve cross-team communication is assigned seating during meetings including icebreakers to encourage conversations. You can also consider arranging non-mandatory team bonding activities and after-work social opportunities.
2. Encourage Sharing of Ideas in Open and Accessible Formats
Your company’s collaboration problem may lie in its disorganization. Investing in feature-rich project management software will help you and your team to manage their time better. Upload important dates, meeting minutes, and ideas, and make it a space where anyone can provide a comment or idea. Link everything in one place and assign tasks with due dates so team members have visibility into their work and the work of their colleagues.
Using a product roadmap template for launching a product can be helpful as well. This tool allows you to outline your goals and break them down into steps and tasks for each team member. You’ll be able to set up themes, prioritization, and deadlines that help employees better understand how their work comes together in the process of launching a product to customers.
3. Define a Company Toolset
Your company culture may be suffering if everyone collaborates in a different way (or the wrong way). Research commissioned by Dell shares that 82% of the millennial workforce say technology influences which job they take, and 42% say they would quit a job over poor technology. Aligning on a standard toolset for how employees collaborate together helps create a guide for them to follow.
Start by looking at what current tools exist and conduct a brief audit on how they’re being used. Often times tools that once served a specific purpose are no longer useful or they overlap with newer technologies and can be replaced. Identify which tools have integrations that can be leveraged for streamlining, often limiting the number of systems your employee’s login to and manage. Consider tools that offer automation of workflows to reduce the number of manual tasks your employees have to conduct each day. Keeping your tech stack relevant and up-to-date will keep your employees happy and productive.
While this may seem daunting at first, the good news is that today’s workforce is seeking improved ways to collaborate together. Showing you care about and understand their needs in a hybrid or remote-first setting is the first step in making improvements to how collaboration occurs. By presenting ideas and enlisting their feedback and support, you’re illustrating a collaboration mindset that will pay off in the long run.
For more suggestions on how to improve workplace design to unlock profitability and sustainability, and ensure a happy, thriving workplace, check out 5 Organizational Design Methods for Maximizing Potential.