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What does good team collaboration look like?
Whoever said: two’s company, three’s a crowd never understood the concept of collaboration. Just think about it, successful projects over the years have come from highly collaborative strategies.
Would Harry Potter have had success without help from Hermione and Ron? Would Queen still resonate with all generations, 30 years on, without the partnership between Freddie, Brian, Roger, and John?
The point is, across all aspects of life, and especially within the workplace, great collaboration is what leads to success.
Is collaboration different from teamwork?
Look at any job description and you’ll likely find that teamwork and collaboration are emphasized across the page. They’re overused so much that their true meanings have dissipated. As long as there’s inclusion across departments, then it means we’re all working towards the established business objectives and we’re good to go.
In order to implement a positive culture and environment in the workplace, it’s important to define these two words and understand how they differ.
The true definition of collaboration comes from the word collaborate, which means to work together on a shared project or goal to help develop each other’s ideas.
Whereas teamwork is a more individualistic definition that focuses on the exclusive work of each person that has been accomplished to achieve a common goal.
Let’s take a company selling an ERP as an example. When a deal closes it’s thanks to the teamwork of each person from marketing to sales. While, on the other hand, once the contract is signed and is passed along to the professional services department, it’s the collaboration between developers, consultants, and project managers working together on the collective goal of satisfying the needs of the client.
How to achieve successful team collaboration
Now that we have the technical details out of the way, what is the key to successful collaboration and how can a business achieve it? There’s no black and white guide, but there is some solid advice to follow that many swear by.
1. Define the end goal
Bring together your team and align the goals of the project. Is it customer retention? Is it a specific financial objective? Whatever it is, make sure your team knows exactly what the target is.
Once that has been defined, the next step is to make sure each person involved knows their role and responsibilities moving forward. While each team member will have a certain role, it’s the collaboration and influence that they will all bring to the project that will lead to a rewarding outcome.
2. Be candid, open, and understanding
One of the top benefits of a collaborative workspace is the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. If you’re alone, the only person you have is yourself, and good luck telling your mind it’s wrong.
Perhaps it’s an idea that doesn’t align with the goal, or maybe someone is struggling to understand where an explicit issue is stemming from. It’s critical to create an environment where people can grow and develop their ideas. If an idea isn’t well received, ensure that an explanation is provided as to why.
A great example of collaboration lies within the realization that we’re all different and we all bring something special to the table. Spread the wealth through knowledge sharing and personal opinions. A healthy business will nourish these views and encourage employees to speak their mind.
3. Keep up with communication
Willingness to collaborate develops through passion and motivation, which comes from an impactful goal. Nowadays, we all want to accomplish something meaningful. Of course, that is very subjective.
Make it known what the reason is for doing the project. When collaborators know why they’re doing something, the incentive for success is strengthened.
Modern workplace collaboration arises from communication. From beginning to middle to end, keep each employee informed as to what is happening inside and outside of their project scope.
It could be that a client has run out of budget and has to drop the project, or something internally involving structure changes, it could be a lot of things. Just make sure they’re up to date on anything that could affect them down the line.
4. Develop and empower skill sets
Value collaboration, but also empower each individual. While collaboration is strategic to gaining exceptional knowledge through others’ thoughts and skills, each person has their own professional goals that can’t always be met at work.
Encourage employees to take courses, attend conferences, or network at events by offering employment development programs. The outcome will be even better as they’ll be more motivated to work and have incredible expertise to share with their teammates.
5. Trust each other
There are many characteristics of a good collaborator, but the one that stands out is trust. Keep in mind that this is your professional life and not your personal life. Meaning, the word trust doesn’t translate to the same thing as it would for your partner or friend.
In business, trust encompasses someone’s ability, knowledge, and personality. In other words, trust your team enough to get the job done. Don’t create hierarchy and assume you can do a better job. They’re there just like you and are experts in their own way.
Trust them enough to be open with them as well. Just because we trust someone does not mean we can’t be transparent with them if they’re missing deadlines, or spending too much time on a simple task. It’s important to understand that trust works both ways.
What is bad team collaboration?
Lack of collaboration is built on the one man for himself concept that rarely works in business. It creates invisible walls between departments, where everyone is separated, hindering collaboration among employees.
A bad collaboration scenario looks something like this:
A client is implementing an ERP and has an upcoming go-live date. The developer is working on custom scripting, the consultant is managing unforeseen issues, while the project manager is setting up post-go-live requirements.
There has been zero collaboration from the get-go and now the client is receiving different information from each team member that is crucial for a successful project.
After that faux-scenario, I think you’ll realize the importance of knowing the right answer to this question: how can working together make a difference?
What tools are available to help with team collaboration?
Working together has proved wonders over the years. Businesses have strived because of positive reinforcements originating from collaboration.
A software like Mavenlink specializes in professional services automation (PSA), which optimizes your resources and maximizes your visibility across the company. The tools available will automate, facilitate, and enhance certain aspects of your projects to ensure your team continues to successfully collaborate. Learn more about how Mavenlink can help you promote collaboration.