Learning how to improve team collaboration, especially in the workplace, is something every leader should know.
Fortunately, the exact way of doing this is what we are about to show you, which you’ll soon see if only you’d stick with us until the end of this discussion.
How To Improve Team Collaboration
From time immemorial, the importance of teamwork/collaboration has always been emphasized.
This is so because there is more to be achieved when two or more people work together to achieve a specific goal than when one person does all the work.
Also, that has always been one of the secrets of every successful organization.
Sadly though, many organizations today have teams that are not so good when it comes to collaboration.
It might be that some individuals on the team feel more important than others.
These might be due to doing things their way without carrying others along.
This could affect team unity and collaborative efforts.
Hence, simply forming a team doesn’t automatically get you collaboration.
Instead, you’ll need to do specific things as a team leader/business owner to improve team collaboration in your organization.
But first, let us understand what the term; “Team Collaboration” means.
What is Team Collaboration?
Team collaboration is a term used in employee management and project management, which refers to the act or process of a team working together towards a common goal.
In essence, it involves teamwork, equal participation, and input by every team member to perform assigned tasks and responsibilities.
It, therefore, means that it is possible to have a team that does not collaborate.
Anyone can easily form a team.
A team is two or more people coming together or working together towards a common goal.
However, there might be situations where some team members do not align with the team’s goals or work closely with others.
In such cases, the team is said to be non-collaborative.
On the other hand, team collaboration would mean that everyone works in synchrony.
There is an equal level of commitment and effort.
Also, goals are aligned, such that everyone knows the target and is committed to fulfilling set goals.
Team collaboration covers every level of an establishment or organization.
It applies to the relationship between the management and employees.
Also, there should be a collaboration between employees themselves.
When an organization also has more than one team, the collaboration between the teams also comes in.
Additionally, there are times when your organization might partner with another organization towards a common goal.
In such cases, team collaboration between both companies is also vital.
What is Accomplished by Improving Team Collaboration – Why is it Important?
Team collaboration, especially in the workplace, is essential and beneficial for so many reasons.
No wonder this is a vital subject for every successful business owner.
The ultimate goal of collaboration at work is to ensure the success and growth of the business, and that is precisely what it does.
With team collaboration, you take advantage of multiple efforts, skills, and perspectives towards accomplishing a project.
It is a no-brainer that a group of people have more power and impact than one individual.
And that is even if the individual is a “superman.”
In light of that, when you improve your team collaboration, you effectively increase job efficiency and speed of work.
You will find that tasks are completed quicker, and you can meet deadlines.
That, of course, would have been difficult with a one-person team.
Another benefit that you get from improving team collaboration is the avenue it provides for your team members to share knowledge, information, and experience.
Indeed, your team could comprise individuals with varying levels of knowledge and expertise.
Without collaboration, people will be experts in their limited fields and novices in other areas.
However, on the other hand, effective collaboration can help everyone get diverse knowledge and perspective, as information is shared.
Improving your team collaboration would also enhance your employees problem-solving skills.
When you face challenging situations, do you usually expend a lot of time, energy, and attention looking for a solution?
It could be because you have not harnessed the power of a collaborative team.
When the entire group comes together and share ideas/perspectives, problem-solving becomes easier.
Team collaboration at work also improves the relationship between your employees.
When people work in isolation, it is difficult to forge a good relationship with others.
This is because they have limited opportunities to interact with other people, learning about their personalities.
On the other hand, working collaboratively as a team exposes you to many things about fellow employees, which help build healthy relationships.
If you are also particular about employee retention (which you should be), you can find that improving team collaboration can yield the needed results.
When employees collaborate, individual employees can feel more valued and appreciated as they give their input.
Thereby increasing job satisfaction and employee retention in the long run.
Without team collaboration, you might as well be spending a lot of money in the line of running the business.
This is because there could be a longer turnaround time for projects delivery, and also a lot of mistakes coming from people who are not the best fit for specific tasks.
With collaboration, however, you would be getting better results and saving a lot of money.
In summary, here are some of the benefits that come with improving team collaboration, especially in the workplace:
- It increases job efficiency, output, and productivity
- It allows your employees to share information, knowledge, and experience
- Also, it makes your team better at solving problems
- Team collaboration can equally help you build cordial and healthy relationships between employees
- Improving team collaboration contributes to employee satisfaction, and by extension, retention
- It saves cost
As you have clearly seen, improving your team collaboration accomplishes many things, and hence you should prioritize this culture in your organization and employee management practices.
Identifying Some Major Factors that Inhibits Team Collaboration
As crucial as team collaboration is, it is anything but easy.
In fact, most organizations fail at achieving this, no matter how hard they try.
Well, certain factors serve as barriers to building or improving team collaboration.
Identifying those barriers is the very first step towards addressing them and improving cooperation on your team.
Here are some of the most common factors or barriers to team collaboration:
One of the factors that may negatively affect team collaboration, especially at work, is some employees feeling inferior.
This inferiority complex might make them hold back from reaching out to others.
They do not want to appear weak, incapable, and not good enough.
Hence, they would prefer to keep to themselves instead of asking others for help.
Don’t get it wrong; having diversity on a team is great for team collaboration and efficiency.
This is because it gives your team a wide array of options for problem-solving, creativity, and innovation.
However, while it has its positives, it can also affect the team negatively.
People’s cultures, ideas, personalities, conflict management styles, e.t.c, are different.
This can bring about some difficulty with collaboration.
Lack of Trust and Respect
Mutual trust and respect is an essential factor for building team collaboration.
However, sometimes, this might be a challenge to find on a team.
This is all thanks to cultural and individual diversity.
Some people might find it hard to trust other team members from a different age group or culture.
This lack of trust and sometimes the lack of respect can make people keep to themselves more and, in the process, hinder team collaboration.
Fear of Conflicts
It could be that you have certain employees who are afraid of dealing with conflicts snd disagreements.
This might be due to the negative past experiences they’ve had with other people.
Unless such employees understand that conflicts are unavoidable and the most important thing is how to handle them, they might avoid collaboration because of this fear.
Instead, they will adopt the mindset of staying on their own to avoid problems.
It usually takes some time to build a relationship with other employees towards improving collaboration.
There are times when your employees might have many tasks to complete and rarely have time to interact with other colleagues or engage in collaborative activities.
This is especially so if they feel that collaborating would take a lot of time.
Hence, they would instead prefer to work alone and figure things out on their own.
How is the competitive spirit on your team?
This, too, can pose a barrier to collaboration in your organization.
Indeed, healthy competitions can help push creativity and efficiency.
However, unhealthy competition can be damaging to relationships and make some employees avoid collaboration.
Unhealthy competition happens when some team members want the whole recognition for themselves.
When that happens, they might sideline others and instead want to carry out tasks and responsibilities solo.
Thus, they do not collaborate in order not to share praise and recognition.
Flexible working arrangements such as remote working has many obvious advantages.
However, it can equally pose a challenge to team collaboration.
Of course, when employees or team members are not always physically present, it is more difficult to achieve collaboration.
Well, the good thing is that there are ways to use many online or digital channels and platforms to solve this challenge.
The leadership style and decisions of the team leader also go a long way in determining whether collaboration would be achieved or not.
Some leaders are more concerned with other aspects of their leadership duties.
Hence, they give little or no attention to building team collaboration.
And this, too, can make it hard to find a collaborative team in such organizations.
Just as the fear of having conflicts can limit team collaboration, so does unresolved conflicts.
Understandably, conflicts and disagreements will arise in a team.
However, you should endeavor to resolve them as quickly as possible.
Otherwise, this would adversely affect your team and lead to strife.
As a result, ruining your efforts at building a collaborative team.
How to Improve Team Collaboration
Having seen the various benefits of team collaboration, it is certainly something you should invest in.
Hence, here are some practical ways in which you can improve team collaboration with good results in a short time:
Set the Stage By your Example
Achieving and improving team collaboration starts with you.
You cannot effectively imbibe the culture of collaboration in your team if you are not collaborative yourself.
Therefore, the management of the team or organization should show that they are willing to carry everyone along on the course.
As a manager or executive, involve your subordinates in the decision-making process, ask for their input, and implement their suggestions when it fits into the organization’s goals.
All these are signs that you are collaborative, which would help your team see the need to be collaborative amongst themselves.
Make the Goal of Collaboration Clear
Unless the team can see what collaboration can help them achieve and the practical benefits, they are less likely to take it seriously.
Hence, you have the responsibility to look at areas of your business where collaboration can make a difference.
Once you’ve done this, then you need to communicate that with your team.
Another method that can work is allowing the team members to meet together and discuss how collaboration can make their work easier or faster.
This is also effective when improving collaboration between different teams, either within the same organization or two other organizations.
When team members understand the value of collaboration, they are more likely to practice it.
Place Emphasis on Team Recognition Over Individual Recognition
Organizations that focus too much on individual recognition over team recognition often struggle with building team collaboration.
This is because it can breed unhealthy competition among team members.
Of course, reward and recognition are very important, both for outstanding individuals and the team.
However, you should take care not to make the individual recognition drown out team efforts and appreciation.
When you focus on recognizing teamwork more, it makes team members more involved in collaborative efforts.
This is because they now know that the praise or rewards they seek aren’t based on what they can do as an individual only, but more on the results they can achieve as a team.
Avoid Discrimination or Constantly Praising Some Employees Over Others
It is an undisputed truth that some of your employees on your team would be better performers than others.
This is because the abilities, skill level, capabilities, and experience of everyone differ.
Therefore, you might find that some team members are more efficient than others.
Of course, you should appreciate those who are actively contributing to the growth of your organization and business.
However, be careful though not to make it seem like they are more important than others. While you can praise and recognize such ones privately and sometimes publicly, always remember to reference the contributions of every team member.
Do not discriminate based on race, culture, gender, or even job performance.
When you do this, you are already setting the stage for disengaging and disintegrating your team.
And in such circumstances, it is hard to improve team collaboration.
Provide Tools and Support for Communication and Feedback
When it comes to improving team collaboration, one factor you cannot take away is communication.
This is essential if you will make your team members work together efficiently.
Therefore, ensure you always remind your employees of the need for effective communication and feedback.
Above all, to make communication easy, you can use many online tools available for internal communication.
This might come in very handy when you have remote teams.
It can help them give each other real-time updates and share information effortlessly.
Hence, fostering and improving collaboration.
Teach Team Members Conflict Management Strategies
There will always be times when the opinions of some team members will have different ideas.
There is a threat to team collaboration at such times, and if you do not take care, it can lead to disagreements and conflicts.
Therefore, it would be proper always to teach your team the need for compromise when there are differing opinions.
Additionally, conflict management is equally something very important that you should teach your team.
This will make them realize that it is OK to disagree sometimes, but there’s no need to get resentful.
In some situations, it might be necessary for you as the leader to step in and resolve some conflicts when you notice them arising.
Engage in Regular Activities That Builds Team Relationship
Team collaboration will not happen automatically because you would most likely have people of different backgrounds, interests, and personalities on your team.
Therefore, you would need to plan activities that bring the team together and make them relate better.
Some of these activities are usually fun activities outside work hours where employees get to know themselves better and understand one another.
It proves to be very effective in improving team collaboration.
Emphasize Responsibility and Accountability
Even with your great efforts at building team collaboration, you might find some members of your team who shy away from responsibility or fail to contribute their quota to the success of the team’s endeavor.
When you notice such, you should emphasize responsibility and accountability.
You can do this by choosing those individuals to hold responsible and accountable when you assign a task, and they fail to complete it.
This would naturally improve collaboration as those to hold accountable would ensure that those responsible do the work.
Wrapping Up on How to Improve Team Collaboration
Team collaboration is one of the sure ways you can get the best out of your employees and run a successful business.
Granted, it might be challenging to pull off sometimes due to obvious reasons.
However, with time and the right strategy, it is very achievable.
Therefore, take time to look at your team and see if there is a need for more collaborative efforts and engagement.
Then, take action to work on improving team collaboration immediately.
Above all, the benefits make it a worthwhile endeavor.