Proven collaboration methods that empower staff are vital for an organisation to get right. Working together is by far the best way for organisations to make the most of their talent by employing collaboration-centred strategies. But creating a culture of collaboration is not as simple as it might seem.
To know how to shift the mindset of all workers towards one of knowledge sharing and collaborative working in a positive way is a skill. Today we’re going to tell you how.
So what is a collaboration strategy?
A collaboration strategy is a method of encouraging collaboration at every level of a business. It is the way in which a business creates and fosters a culture of working together to achieve the best results.
19 Strategies for Encouraging Workplace Collaboration
Here are 19 strategies commonly used to foster collaboration in an organisation.
1) Identify Individual Strengths
The first step in encouraging collaboration is to identify where certain skills lie in your workforce. Take the time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of every employee, and how these skills might be used in a collaborative setting.
Not every worker is born to lead. Some people have a talent for presentation. Others can plough through complex tasks like a knife through butter. It takes a varied pool of skills to make a team.
If you can identify where certain capabilities are the strongest, you’ll know how to put together world-beating teams.
2) Make Communication Easy
Communication is the backbone of any organisation, especially one that thrives on collaboration. If you are looking to foster collaboration among your workers, internal communication needs to be in top shape.
This doesn’t just mean emails and messages between team members. It’s not just about the physical ability to communicate, it’s about how naturally team members communicate with each other. All barriers need to be removed.
Employees should feel comfortable making suggestions, creating a dialogue and being able to talk with authority and confidence with managers and everyone within their team. . Managers should be able to share resources and work together for the progress of people management across the organisation.
3) Empower your Team
One of the most effective ways to create a well-oiled team is to delegate responsibilities. Empowering your workers in this way allows everyone to take ownership of their work and realise their own potential.
With responsibilities shared among team members, collaboration becomes essential. Each person’s workload will have interdependencies with tasks going on elsewhere. This facilitates communication, knowledge sharing and collaborative completion of tasks.
Your teams also require the ability to communicate seamlessly, ideally with a system where they can speak between each other individually and in groups. Pinging messages back and forth is essential with remote workers, and should be encouraged as early as possible.
4) Advocate for Collaborative Working
Before collaboration can take root in the core of an organisation, the mindset of its workers needs to be open to it. In this modern age of remote and hybrid working, it can be difficult to foster collaboration between people working from their homes. Your job is to prove to them the benefits of collaboration.
Encourage your teams to share ideas and work together on their tasks. If you know your workers’ strengths inside and out, you’ll be able to foster collaboration between workers who differ in their strengths by assigning one of them a task you’ll know lies outside their strengths.
5) Implement Team-focused Work
You can take the above strategy one step further, and specifically assign tasks to small groups. This is common practice in many businesses, where workers from different teams cross-collaborate on clients and cases.
It might be that two workers from one team are given a task to work on together, even though both of them possess the skills to complete it. While this might not have any obvious benefits where productivity is concerned, it allows workers to discover the benefits of collaboration for themselves.
6) Lead by Example
Leaders of teams and departments need to lead by example, and demonstrate that the culture of your organisation is built around working together. This will inevitably filter down to your employees if demonstrated in a positive light. If you are a team leader, you can demonstrate this to others by showing that you are open to suggestions and general dialogue.
This is where a separation often emerges between those who truly desire a collaborative environment and those who prefer the idea alone. By demonstrating that you are committed to a collaborative environment, other workers will follow suit.
7) Define Roles Within your Team
When building a team for collaborative work, defining the roles of each member establishes a sense of structure within the team. If you are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your workers, you’ll already know who to assign your roles to.
One exercise in collaboration to try is to let the team choose their own roles as it will give the team a sense of autonomy and ownership over their work. Defining roles within a team helps the group function like a machine, every worker performing their own specific task within the greater project.
8) Assign Diverse Teams
Another thing to consider when putting teams together is how to give every team the widest perspective on their given tasks. Studies have shown that teams of diverse perspectives can foster creative thinking and productivity and chances are you’ll find a wider scope of vision with a group of people who are inherently different.
You’ll likely find that with a diverse team, the perspective of each is put to better use because of how varied they might be. Allowing each team to take advantage of this is yet another way to demonstrate how effective collaboration can be, rather than just preaching it.
9) Diminish your Involvement
A diminishing involvement strategy refers to a team leader letting go of the reins after the inception of the project. By playing an active role in the beginning of the project, you can equip your team with everything they need to get started.
By taking a step back, you encourage your team to work things out together. Each team member can naturally fall into their roles and take ownership of their tasks. However, staying on hand to provide guidance is advised.
By guiding a team from a distance, you can both ensure the task is handled correctly and allow the team to collaborate and complete the work themselves.
10) Utilise Collaboration Tools
In the modern working world, no team can function with a centralised system from which to work from. One place where they can share ideas and work on tasks simultaneously while still managing their own activities and time.
Digital tools can have an immense amount of benefits for collaborative teams, especially if you’re all working remotely. The ability to track progress across individual tasks and the project as a whole makes work management so much easier.
If your organisation is using MS Teams to communicate, rather than use other platforms for task management, reporting and document management, Verto 365 expands into to MS Teams and brings all this functionality under one roof.
11) Host Brainstorming Sessions
There are few better ways to encourage collaborative creativity than with brainstorming sessions with your team. Take half an hour away from your screens, head to a breakout space and share ideas in person. If you can conduct these sessions in an environment that feels separate from where you usually work, this can help inspire unique thoughts that might not occur at your desks.
Additionally, these sessions can encourage the team to gel as people rather than only as colleagues. By understanding the energy of your team, you can help them to develop a synergy with each other. By fostering a welcoming environment where your team feels comfortable voicing their ideas, these sessions can do wonders for encouraging collaboration.
12) Promote Ad-hoc Collaboration
Alongside setting tasks specifically designed for collaborative working, promoting teamwork in everyday tasks can help encourage a collaborative working culture. This could be something as simple as encouraging open communication between colleagues on their tasks.
By generally promoting collaboration as a good way to work, the benefits of working together will begin to show themselves. This can often be a more seamless strategy for introducing collaboration, as there is no hard switch from solo or siloed working for colleagues to reject.
13) Create a Shared Resource Hub
Many organisations have a shared cloud drive where company documents, policies and resources are stored. By giving everyone access to the same information you can unify your workforce and give everyone the same basis from which to work together.
You could even start to encourage certain team members to contribute to the shared drive. Employees could create best practice guides or case study documents that could be useful to the organisation as a whole. This also helps to demonstrate the value and trust you have in your workers, which is essential for building a good working culture.
14) Utilise Team Building
Out of office team building is a tried and tested method of building rapport between your workers. By taking part in an activity not related to work in any way, team members can get to know each other as people rather than just colleagues. In turn, this will improve the general energy of the office, which is essential for building a culture of collaborative working in your organisation.
15) Connect on a Human Level
Many of the points we’ve discussed so far are focused around one thing: encouraging your team to connect as people, on a human level. Colleagues that get on and understand each other are far more likely to want to work together than colleagues who don’t.
Even if they have to work together, colleagues who don’t connect on a human level are less likely to produce good results from collaboration than colleagues who do. Many of the points we’ve made are great ways to start building relationships between your workers, and therefore encourage collaboration to become a natural part of your working environment.
16) Reward Good Teamwork
By rewarding good demonstrations of collaboration you can improve your team’s motivation to do it. Take the time to recognise workers who encourage collaboration themselves, or who achieve good results from working together.
17) Set Goals Collaboratively
Working collaboratively is only half the battle in instilling collaboration into your workplace. One way to truly emphasise the importance of working together is to collaborate on project planning and goal setting. This is a great way to show your team how valued their input is, and that collaboration at every level is beneficial.
This doesn’t just have to be project goals either. If you have a mission statement as an organisation, or some general business goals, you could get your teams involved with their planning too. If you manage a marketing department, speak to each member of the team to see what their thoughts on the general strategy are.
18) Encourage Real-World Collaboration
Collaboration shouldn’t just be sending messages to each other while tag-teaming a project. Teamwork can only be taken to its furthest point when real-world interactions form the basis of it. This means face to face meetings (or virtual calls) where you can speak as people and understand each other, rather than just through messages and emails.
Examples of this include breakout sessions, physical task planning with post it notes or sketches, or even days out to brainstorm. This all comes back to encouraging your team to communicate as humans rather than just IM boxes on their screens.
19) Get Feedback from your Team
The final thing to consider is how well collaboration is being received by your organisation. By getting feedback from your team on various collaboration strategies you’ve employed, you can see how well they are responding.
Consider their responses to various collaboration activities, see what worked to foster teamwork and what didn’t. From here you can plan a long term strategy for making collaboration a core part of your organisation.
Foster Collaboration with Verto 365
If your organisation uses MS Teams to manage your work, Verto 365 is the logical next step in building a culture of collaboration. With access from the AppSource, Verto 365 pulls together a whole host of collaborative working tools, and embeds them right into Teams.
Functionality such as Kanban-style boards and Gantt charts, secure document sharing and benefits tracking. All of these features and more, have been brought straight into Microsoft Teams through the Verto 365 app.