- July 27, 2021
- by Kat Ciesielska
- No comments
What is team collaboration? It seems to be obvious. Every team member understands that being a part of something bigger is different from playing solo. But is it all?
Collaboration means cooperating with someone to produce something. It can happen inside the same department, but there’s also a cross team collaboration (e.g. when sales needs to do some project teaming with marketing). But simply working for the same company and doing similar tasks isn’t.
How often do you think about your team members while working together?
What team-building activities do you implement to build some bonds between them?
When was the last time when you could really say that it was a successful team collaboration?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, probably you’ve never honestly focused on it. And this was a mistake.
Project management isn’t a piece of cake, and during its process, you have many things to think about. Estimating budget, workforce, planning each step of the project, and much more.
But can you imagine how easier it would be if every single team member knew their place and trusted others? How much time would you save if they worked together smoothly as pieces in a Swedish clock?
If that’s not convincing enough to you, I’ve got some numbers that should change it.
- According to Global Workplace Analytics, you could save up to $11.000 annually simply by switching to remote work at your company. If you’re still skeptical, check how Flexjobs has saved already over $5 million since 2007! And guess what? To get the best results, make sure that your projects’ team members collaborate smoothly.
- Just wait for 2024 because as MarketsAndMarkets claims, the online collaboration industry is supposed to hit $48 billion valuations until then! All these successful companies are treating team collaboration seriously already. How about you?
- After ASTD 2011 International Conference & Exposition, everybody connected to the business started sharing this information: 86 percent of respondents blame lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. People are still people and it ain’t changing.
That’s why effective team collaboration really is something.
In this article, you’ll find possible problems but also tips, tools, and ideas on how to improve team collaboration in your company.
You can read it all, but you can also jump right into the strategy
Here’s what you’ll find in the article:
Effective team collaboration killers and tips on how to handle them
1. Lack of trust
If you don’t trust your team, you can’t expect a successful collaboration. There are many people who always think that they are better than others and if something must be done properly, they do it by themselves.
Living with this approach destroys your team spirit, in and outside the work environment.
Even the best collaboration tools won’t help to improve your work if team members can’t trust each other. And what I mean here is trust in others’ skills and experience, mostly. However, it would be good if everybody would just feel safe between other team members.
Feeling like a part of the group and knowing that you can be yourself is important to mental health. When your people aren’t struggling in their private life, they can focus at work and on essential tasks.
Good teamwork starts from believing in the whole team, so don’t forget about it.
Tip→ Organize some team collaboration integrations regularly. Let people to better know each other. Maybe some Escape Room first to make them work together?
2. Feeling isolated
This point actually is very attached to the previous one. If your team members don’t trust each other, they won’t feel like a part of the team.
But even they know that other team members have enough skills and that they are good people in general, they can feel pretty isolated.
This problem is very common between remote workers and distributed teams. People rely on video conferencing, collaboration tools, and social media platforms to communicate.
It’s much harder to start group discussions and share ideas in this when they don’t really know each other in person.
You can’t expect a team’s success as well if the tools you’re currently using are not the right ones.
Tip→ Regular integration is one thing, but it’s good to make your team bond more often. Propose some lunch together. Maybe pizza Fridays? It can be organized online as well!
3. Problems with understanding each other
Do you remember the study conducted at UCLA about verbal and nonverbal communication?
The study’s statistics showed that only 7% of any message is relayed through actual words (their meaning). 38% is about vocal elements (e.g. tone of your voice), and 55% is all about nonverbal communication.
As actually, you can’t treat it so literally (because of cultural differences, relationship statuses, individual’s mental health, etc.), you can trust that words without body language and vocal are really not good enough.
That is one of the reasons why simple e-mail is often not enough. But there’s more.
The reason can be working in different time zones when it comes to remote teams, too official company culture, poor emotional intelligence of some individual team members, or even cultural aspects if you hire people from different countries.
If you care about improving team collaboration, you need to find a way.
Tip→ Communication workshops are not just HR silly ideas. They really can improve collaboration in the workplace. And with your customers too, btw.
4. Weak task management method
Proper communication is one thing, but managing projects is second.
No matter what is your leadership style, you want the entire team to be on the same page when it comes to project progress.
Effective team collaboration means that everyone knows what to do, so all the tasks can be done. Badly estimated projects, too many or too hard tasks per person, not enough resources… these are just some of the reasons why even the most collaborative teams won’t meet their goals.
Taking care of project planning is highly important if you dream about great team performance.
Tip→ Having great collaboration software is not enough. Managers need to know how to lead. Organize special workshops for people responsible for project management, talk to the people and ask about their honest opinions. What would they change about their leaders?
5. Wrong collaborative tools or the right tools used in a wrong way
If you’ve read it all, you already know that this point is crucial.
Good collaboration software can change everything. In fact, this is one of the ways to solve previous problems and enjoy effective collaboration.
And what it means is that using the wrong collaboration apps in your company can destroy all the effort.
What is the wrong team collaboration software? The one that your team members don’t find easy. The one that eats more time than save for you. The one that is not updated regularly, has bugs and annoys you. Finally, the one that doesn’t deliver enough value.
However, sometimes the tool is not wrong. It’s perfect for its purposes, but people use it in the wrong way.
E-mail is excellent when it comes to making a summary. But why would you communicate with your colleagues like that, instead of using instant messaging on chat?
The timing is important as well. Don’t plan video calls for a time when half of the team finishes work already. Wait if you can, and you know that everyone is super busy, fighting with a deadline. Or put this extra effort and convert it into an e-mail.
Tip→ Don’t choose some tool just because it’s considered “fancy” in your industry. Take your time, test your tools. Ask your team members what they like and dislike about them. Then choose the most suitable for you and invest some time to learn how to use it properly.
Best team collaboration tools
This is the time to talk about collaboration software to improve effective collaboration. Artificial intelligence and the newest technology, in general, have changed the business world.
Let it change your project management tactics, show up every team member’s strengths and implement collaborative culture into your organization. Create a modern workplace. Even it’s a huge company, reversed in multiple locations.
These are types of tools that will improve your team collaboration. To get the best results, =[poll;/.
1. For smooth team communication
Communication tools are one of the most important ones if you want to meet your goals. I can’t imagine good collaboration if there’s no way to communicate smoothly. Especially these days, when so many teams include remote workers and freelancers.
And no, e-mail is not a good example. I’ve already mentioned it before, but let me do this once more. E-mail is perfect for summarizing, but when it comes to flawless collaboration, you need something faster and easier.
Instant messaging is the answer. That is why you need a chat and audio conferencing option. That could be Slack and Google Meets for example. But wouldn’t be great if you could also discuss right under the task you’ve got in mind? And have your kanban board in the same place?
Imagine how great it would be to share great ideas, attaching important documents, and building trust with a help of one software.
Ok, now stop imaging. Just check out HeySpace and feel how it works in the real world.
2. For bigger sales deals
Team collaboration is important, and not just for developers, support, and marketing teams. Times, when salesman cared just about their KPIs, is over. These days, salespeople also work as one team.
They learn from each other, improve business processes, and compete in a friendly manner. Even they have very diverse opinions and backgrounds, they value teamwork work, and they understand each other.
To improve your sales team collaboration, find yourself a great CRM software. It is a great software that helps everyone track their sales progress and check how is it going for others. This way you will avoid weird situations like two salespeople focus on the same prospect or wasting time for those who just said no.
Try Zoho CRM for example. It’s modern and user-friendly software used by companies like Amazon.in, Suzuki and Netflix. And you can easily integrate it with TimeCamp.
This is awesome because that’s the third type of software you should check out.
3. For precise estimations and billing
Every project has its value for your company. Some of them are worth it, but some of them are actually a waste of your time. Money spent on recourses sometimes is bigger than money that your company earned.
If you want real control, you need to have proper data. When you can count work hours that every project needs, you’re one step closer to better estimation. Then you can implement modern workforce management basing on time tracking, not on guessing.
TimeCamp is a time tracking tool that will save your money and motivate your team at the same time. It’s not the team collaboration software that comes first to your mind, but it does make a change.
Team collaboration is not just video conferencing, nice chatting, and building bonds on integration. It’s also a fair and friendly competition that motivates everybody to get better.
And TimeCamp can boost it all. Just let your team members see how others spend their time at work and watch the results. Add some extra price for being the most productive person of the month, and you’ll see how amazing your people are.
This might be this new tool for your company that you’ve been missing. Like it was for Raindrop.
How to implement effective collaboration in the workplace
We’ve talked about possible problems, we’ve checked what kind of tools are useful, so now it’s time for the strategy.
If you want to create a real collaborative environment in your company, including cross team collaboration, you’ll need to create a plan and stick to it.
There’s no collaboration tool, no one magic software that can just make it if your team is not ready for a change. Sharing ideas on the group chat is one thing, but effective team collaboration is more complex.
Tips for you to improve team collaboration
- Organize a meeting and make a brainstorm with multiple teams. Check how is the situation now, and decide how you would like it to be. Engage people.
- Choose the right tools, after testing them.
- Teach every team how to use these tools effectively.
- Make some integrations from time to time and use them to develop useful skills between people.
- Collect data and analyze them to improve team collaboration.
Skills to develop for your team members’
This is a skill that’s useful not just to improve team collaboration. If you’re in sales, for sure you know Brian Tracy – an international couch and a great salesman.
He’s the one who tries to show people in business that the key to success is not talking. It’s active listening.
If you want your business to grow, organize a small workshop for everyone in the company. When your people learn how to listen, they will create better relationships inside and outside the company.
They will develop better products, write better copy, and create better advertising campaigns. Better, because based on real people’s needs.
They will also understand each other, which is crucial for every team collaboration.
Super short tip → Listen twice, speak for once.
Why is collaboration in the workplace so hard sometimes? Even everybody comes to the office, you often meet communication issues.
People like to believe that we are special. That our rational minds are powerful, and we make decisions logically. Every good marketer and salesman knows that’s a lie we serve ourselves daily.
Our reptilian brain is over 500 million years old, limbic system 150 million years, while the new brain we love so much… is just 3-4 million years old. And the cortex is lazy as hell. It jumps into action only when it has to, works slowly, and usually just justifies what our old brain already has decided.
We can also use Daniel Kahneman’s explanation. There are two Systems in you. System 1 is both the older parts of your brain. System 2 is the new brain.
System 1 is fast, but it likes it simple. That’s why we all love stereotypes (IT team is weird, and they all eat fast food), we prefer simple language, and we simplify everything around. Sometimes so much that it lies to us. Check it out by yourself.
Which square is darker? A or B?
Well, they both are exactly the same. I’m not kidding. If you find it interesting, check some more examples of color illusions.
That’s just one example. And there’s more. We also aren’t able to focus on two complicated tasks, women neither (really, if you think you can do it, try Kahneman’s exercises “add 1” or “add3” while preparing muffins).
Ok, but we’ve been talking about team collaboration, right? Right. That is why understanding that our minds are tricky is crucial.
Do you sometimes start talking to someone from your team when they are focused on Excel or some project management tool? Don’t be surprised if they don’t remember it later on. Argue is in air, collaboration is disturbed, and even the best collaboration tools won’t help it.
Effective team collaboration way of communication:
- speak just when your teammate is ready to focus on you
- use simple words, especially when talking to someone from another department (don’t talk in marketing jargon to CFO)
- share files you want to discuss
- if you give someone a task, make sure they understood it (ask to repeat in their words)
- use your collaboration tool in the right way (e.g. talk about the exact project on its card, tag people, etc.)
Emotional intelligence used to be underestimated by many people, but these days we all know that’s important.
We can also call it empathy, and that’s the skill that helps you understand that your coworker is not angry at you, but at something else. It helps you to notice when someone is just shy, not arrogant or sad, not lazy.
If you use tools like TimeCamp, everybody will be able to actually see, how hardworking are their teammates. Understanding how much someone has worked on a particular task can be really helpful while improving team collaboration.
Team collaboration will be much better if you develop this skill between your teammates.
Start by letting people speak about their emotions openly, even at the office. And open up as well.
A new reality for the entire team
Effective team collaboration will change your company. You will do more in a shorter time, and the results will be much better.
It may not be easy at the beginning to improve it, but it’s definitely worth it. Check by yourself and see how your business grows.