5 Tips for Effective Collaboration
How to improve the way your team works together
There may be no "i" in team, but there is one in win. Winning – whether it's new business, new customers or just an amazing idea – keeps your company in the game, but you can only score that success when everyone on the team works together toward a common goal. Karen Goodfellow, Relationship Consultant and Facilitator with Vancouver-based Astudia Consulting, conducts workshops specializing in team building and collaborating. She offers the following strategies to improve how your team collaborates.
1. Pick Your "Players" Wisely
Before you start any collaboration, choose your team based on each member’s experience, skills and knowledge, and define their roles and responsibilities clearly. The players don’t all have to come from within the company, however; sometimes outsiders can add insight.
“Anyone peripherally affected by the outcome – from clients to stakeholders – can provide valuable information,” says Goodfellow. “They have fresh eyes, less entrenchment, less investment."
2. Specify Your Goals
Goodfellow advises having a set of guiding principles to carry you through and keep you focused when things get sticky. Lay out your goals and objectives, how and when you'd like to achieve each one, and who is responsible for each part of the project. Then ask for each member’s feedback – and really listen. You want to ensure each person's opinions are heard and acknowledged before a decision is made.
3. Change the Venue
“Always using the same room stifles thinking, and the team dynamics will follow you in,” says Goodfellow. She suggests getting coffee or a meal together, playing a sport or having a walking meeting when it's time to collaborate. “Six people walking end up hashing out stuff, tossing around ideas, problem solving, reviewing progress,” she says. Moving stimulates your mind, changes your physiology and literally gets you going somewhere.
4. Check In and Update
During the collaboration process, you and your team should meet regularly for status reports, and to address any misunderstandings or roadblocks. Use technology to access and edit files with programs such as Google Docs. Share notes, thoughts and ideas with Evernote, and use Timebridge to share calendars, goal countdowns and to set meetings. Goodfellow uses Teamwork.com, as well as e-groups, but says there’s no substitute for being in the same room, eyeball to eyeball, to really get a sense of how your team is progressing.
5. Appreciate the Journey
Goodfellow isn’t big on praise, incentives and other motivators, believing the collaboration itself is the reward. “People want to be valued at work, to feel that they have a say and they’re making a difference,” she says. “Collaboration increases people’s intrinsic value, improves absenteeism, morale and engagement.” And everyone walks away a winner.
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