With more and more employees working from home full or part time, it’s even more difficult to build a collaborative workplace.
If that’s something your business struggles with, here’s 7 ways to build collaborative teams that you can easily implement.
1. Leverage communication platforms to collaborate
With workplaces becoming increasingly distributed, and remote employment and work from home becoming far more common, improving communication needs to include tools designed for online collaboration. This includes chat apps like Slack, video meeting apps like Zoom, and collaboration tools like Google Docs. Like many businesses, you could try to use all these apps (and more). Or you could try an integrated team collaboration app with Spike. Spike offers a single, integrated, and user friendly video and email chat platform, that also includes features like email, calendar, group chat, video chat, collaborative docs, tasks and to dos, and more. Spike has its own feature-filled email client, and also allows you to integrate email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and more.
2. Foster Collaborative, Communicative Team Meetings
Team meetings are a crucial space to foster conversation and collaboration between colleagues, and it’s necessary that your team meetings are a space where everyone has the opportunity to collaborate. Ensure that there is a space for everyone to speak. On a practical level, there’s several things you can do as a leader to ensure that this happens. For example, ask relevant questions to those employees who tend to be quiet; focus on questions around their skill sets or projects, which allow them to shine and showcase their expertise. If there are certain employees who tend to be talkative, loud, or otherwise dominate the conversation, try responding to their comments with a question, and then “pass the ball” onto another employee who can contribute to the conversation in a more valuable manner. Or tell them that while their perspective is interesting and you’d love to have an email allowing you to review the details more closely.
3. Know Team Members Greatest Strengths too Contributive
When it comes to fostering team participation in meetings, or collaborative efforts where each individual is able to contribute, it’s critical to important the individual skill set of each team member. When building a taskforce for a project, assign people the tasks and responsibilities that will bring about their strengths. Give everyone the opportunity to bring their best to the table. Allowing them to showcase their strengths and receive appreciation from the entire team will also make employees more inspired to deliver to the best of their capability. You should also know the weaknesses of each team member and avoid assigning tasks or otherwise focusing on any skills they lack, which can lead an individual to detach themselves from the team.
4. Foster Positive Professional Relationships with A Personal Element
While a workplace is a professional environment, it should also be one where employees feel comfortable. This is critical to fostering collaboration in the workplace – people will hesitate to share their ideas, brainstorm strategies, or even talk meaningfully to each other if they don’t feel comfortable with one another. While your employees don’t need to be best friends, it’s important to help them build positive relationships where they know and respect each other on a human level. For example, encourage people to decorate their desks or offices with personal mementos or family photos, creating a more friendly and comfortable atmosphere. Show team members that it is OK to enjoy their jobs. Create a work environment where staff members are encouraged to work together. To really foster close professional relationships, communication, and collaboration between your employees, you can even try team building exercises, workshops, retreats, or simply treating the team to after work drinks and dinner.
5. Ensure Effective Conflict Resolution if Collaboration turns to Miscommunication
One of the most important parts of building collaborative workplaces is discouraging and effectively resolving conflicts, which can lead to communication breakdowns, a toxic atmosphere, and leaving employees feeling discouraged and disengaged. The key to minimizing conflicts is to have a policy that actively discourages escalation and emotional reactions. If there is a conflict, make sure there is a procedure to handle it. If an employee feels aggrieved by another, they should know the next step they need to take – and that next step is not getting into a heated argument with the person they are upset with. Any conflicts that arise should be communicated to leaders, who should be ready to step in and mediate the conflict in a fair way, taking the time to listen to the concerns and perspective of all parties involved. If it doesn’t seem possible for team members in conflict to work out their differences, you can ask HR who have trained professionals in conflict-resolution.
6. Lead By Example
For all the strategies we’ve listed to build collaborative teams, it’s very important that you as a leader set by example. The habits of their leaders widely influence employee behavior in the workplace. Here are a few ways you can lead by example to create a collaborative workplace. Make sure that in meetings, you’re not the only one droning on. Create a space for everyone to contribute to the conversation. Make a joke or ask people how their week has been, to create a level of comfort. Set an example by starting the day with a greeting to employees, or simply smiling and saying hi when you pass each other in hallways. Encourage the use of appropriate humor in the office by posting amusing posters, or (only occasionally) forwarding a cute email about cats.
7. Support Collaboration
The last and most important way to build collaboration is to ensure that once employees are collaborating, you support, encourage, and reward their efforts. So when a conversation between colleagues turns into a brainstorm or an idea, give them the opportunity and support to develop their collaboration. Support them with the resources, training, and guidance they may need.