Struggling with team collaboration? Follow these tips and tricks
By: Emily Finlay
Team collaboration capitalizes on the best your employees have to offer. It creates an environment where one person’s strengths can support another’s weaknesses. Strong collaboration also offers a workspace that uses and values every person’s unique experiences and perspective. When your team knows how to work together to get the job done, you can accomplish tasks more efficiently and with better results.
With so many companies using remote workers today, collaboration has become even more important. You can’t rely on simple proximity to encourage teamwork, so the ability to connect and work together is essential to every team.
Even with the best people, however, community and collaboration have to be cultivated and encouraged by management. As you determine the best ways to build a powerful team, use these tips to inspire team collaboration among your colleagues.
What are team collaboration best practices?
Team collaboration best practices start by focusing on the end goal. Rather than just following a list of activities, you first need to determine what you want to accomplish. Using techniques chosen specifically for your team will work much better than generic options.
For example, we’ve all heard of (and probably participated in) trust-building exercises, but does falling blindly into your coworkers’ arms really inspire collaboration?
Start instead by focusing on your goals and using those results to shape your approach to team-building.
Choosing your team collaboration goals
Though you will have specific objectives for every project you complete, you first need to develop objectives for collaboration as a whole. These goals will help you keep your team working together in any project or task. Use the objectives below to help you prioritize your main goals for excellent team collaboration.
A 2019 study found that 80% of American workers feel stressed because of the lack of communication within their workforce. Even worse, 63% of the U.S. workforce expressed a desire to quit because ineffective communication prevented them from doing their jobs.
Happy employees do better work, so improving your team communication is a must for collaboration. Start by meeting with your employees to see how they feel about the communication within your company. Then, use their feedback to develop better processes. Keeping everyone on the same page about your projects and news will keep everyone connected and ready to do their best work.
Often, the loudest, most outgoing people on a team get the most attention. Or, you may unintentionally give more time and weight to the most senior employees. When this happens, you may miss out on the insights offered by those who aren’t heard. You may also drive these workers away from your business.
Fostering community among your team shows that you care about everyone and what they have to say. It encourages everyone to speak up, sharing information that is essential to efficient work. This inclusivity also encourages excitement about the work you’re doing. The more valued your team members feel, the better your collaboration will be.
When you have several people working together, it’s vital to stay focused and efficient. Collaboration tools help achieve this goal, enabling quick, clear communication. Whether your team is located down the hall or across the country, you can instantly connect everyone together.
These tools allow you to hold video conferences for all of your meetings. Seeing everyone’s faces is essential for building connections and enabling teamwork. It also simplifies working together on tasks and implementing feedback. With 80% of companies using these tools to promote better collaboration, it’s clear that they are a must.
Team collaboration ideas for reinforcing goals
Once you have your goals, how will you keep them at the center of your teamwork? Below, we’ve included some of the ways you can reinforce your team collaboration goals on a daily basis.
Keep them visible
If you’re in an office space, you might create a chart that you can hang on the wall to remind everyone how to collaborate best. For remote teams, you can store a list on your business database and include it in the briefs for every project. These regular reminders will guide your actions and keep teams working together consistently.
Include them in new employee training
Along with communicating your expectations, sharing these goals from the onset helps new employees settle into their teams and roles. They will understand how your projects run and how to collaborate most effectively.
Revisit them on a regular basis
Collaboration focuses on your team, so their input is essential to reaching your goals. Several times a year, brainstorm with your team to examine your success with team collaboration. See what has been working, or not working, and why. Use their feedback to improve your objectives and keep your teamwork a success.
Team collaboration activities
Though trust exercises aren’t a guaranteed way to encourage team collaboration, there are many activities that you can use to bring your team closer together, even with remote workers. These team-building efforts help your team understand each other as people, highlighting the strengths they offer. Even if you don’t see friendships form, collaboration will excel when everyone shares a mutual respect.
These team collaboration ideas can be adjusted to fit your team’s size. You can also use them as inspiration for your own activities. As long as you keep your goals in mind, you should see great results.
They might be a bit cliche, but icebreakers are the best way to help your workers get to know each other. Some games can focus on personal details, inviting everyone to share facts about their lives and personal preferences. Others can use silly challenges to force your team members to interact in a variety of ways. Whatever activity you choose, just make sure that it is fun, lighthearted, and intended to help everyone see each other as people.
Icebreaker team collaboration examples
If you want to use an activity that encourages people to share about themselves personally, consider a game like Two Truths and a Lie. in this game, participants offer three statements about themselves. Everyone else then has to guess which statement is a lie. This silly game allows people to share fun tidbits about themselves and gets everyone involved.
Another option is to reenact the show “Shark Tank.” Break your team into groups of 2-4 people and give each group an imaginary product to pitch. This activity highlights the strengths of each person while encouraging fun and creativity.
One of the best ways to encourage collaboration is to demand it in a fun setting! Team challenges include a variety of activities that require every team member to contribute to the solution. You can set up hypothetical scenarios that teams have to brainstorm and develop solutions for. You can also create physical challenges that have predetermined solutions.
When choosing these tasks, be careful to find challenges that encourage fun. If your team gets too frustrated by the activity, it can cause friction and negativity among the participants. Instead, choose challenges that promote creative thinking, ingenuitive problem solving, and lots of laughter.
Team challenge team collaboration examples
One common team challenge is the human knot. Have everyone stand in a circle, then reach across the circle with their right arm to grab someone’s hand. Next, they will use their left hand to grab the hand of a different person. Using a time limit, the team has to figure out how to untangle the knot without releasing any hands. This activity encourages your team to work together to solve the problem within a timely manner.
For a less physical task, present your team with a simple problem that your business is facing in reality. Ask them to work together to identify the main cause, ways this problem affects their own work, and potential solutions. Encourage dialogue and call attention to participants who aren’t being heard. At the end, you can even offer ways for your team to pursue these solutions and present them to higher-ups within your organization.
Team collaboration activities don’t have to be restricted to games and challenges. You can also find ways to encourage teamwork within your projects. This might include brainstorming solutions for the problems you’re trying to solve or changing up the roles within each project. Moving your collaboration activities into a setting that brings real results will give your team more confidence in themselves and each other.
Project task team collaboration examples
The idea of a “moonshot strategy” is something created by the Google X research facility. For this activity, teams brainstorm potential solutions without considering any restraints such as budget, time, or capabilities. This freedom allows your team to tap into unlimited creative thinking. Many of their ideas may not be usable, but it allows them to find options that are.
You can also try putting a new person in charge of each project. This allows everyone to shine, using different strengths to find better ways of doing things. It also shows that everyone on the team is valuable, strengthening team collaboration throughout the company.