Teamwork and collaboration positively impact individual and overall company performance. One study found that companies that promote collaborative work activities are five times as likely to be high-performing as those that don’t. Collaboration within and between teams ensures that information, time, and other resources are shared for the benefit of everyone involved. When individuals collaborate, each person has an opportunity to contribute their best ideas and efforts, ultimately making each team more productive. Here are five strategies to increase teamwork and collaboration in your organization.
Promote Frequent Communication
For any team to function properly and work productively with other teams, frequent communication is a necessity. Frequent communication helps to answer individual questions, overcome obstacles, and resolve conflicts. It also reduces the potential for confusion and duplicated efforts. Some of the ways you can ensure frequent communication in support of collaboration and teamwork include:
- Establishing different forums for employees to communicate and share ideas, including in-person meetings, brainstorming sessions, and email or other virtual communication means
- Providing interpersonal communication skills training to help employees at all levels learn how to achieve complete and accurate understanding when communicating with others
- Offering training that helps leaders solidify their ability to manage internal communications within departments and teams and build skills that will help them develop their leadership presence
Ensure Leadership Support
To achieve any kind of change in the workforce, company leaders must be enthusiastic champions of the effort to do so. Company leaders set the tone for teamwork and collaboration through their own example and by delivering clear expectations and feedback to the individuals on their team. When leaders reach across functional lines to share information and resources and recognize those on their team who also collaborate well with others, other members of the team will be more likely to engage in activities that support positive team functioning.
Leverage Collaboration Technology
Many digital solutions facilitate easier and more streamlined collaboration between individuals, no matter where they’re based. As new platforms and solutions become available, employees increasingly rely on collaboration technology to make progress on projects, get input on next steps, and share ideas to boost creativity. In fact, an Alfresco survey found that 83 percent of professionals depend on technology to collaborate, and 82 percent said they would be impacted by the loss of it. Examples of collaboration technology include:
- Internal social networks that improve communication and information-sharing among the workforce
- Project management software that includes file-sharing and chat capability.
- Virtual whiteboard platforms
Develop Collaboration and Teamwork Skills
Collaboration doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. Therefore, the best way to increase collaborative behavior in the workplace is to teach employees what successful teamwork looks like and what actions they can take to support it. When people understand all the benefits of effective teamwork, they’re more likely to develop a collaborative mindset and engage in desired behaviors. Teamwork and collaboration training teaches employees how to:
- Productively share resources, assign tasks, and maintain quality standards
- Communicate effectively and frequently with team members
- Build team focus on objectives and their outcomes
Reinforce Collaborative Behavior
Any behavior you’re trying to establish in the workplace will require regular reinforcement over time so that individuals don’t revert to old ways of doing things. When you reinforce collaborative behavior, there is less opportunity for silos to form, and the organization is able to develop a culture of openness and transparency. Some of the key ways you can reinforce collaborative behavior include:
- Tying promotion and developmental opportunities to collaborative behavior
- Leveraging training reinforcement tools, such as assessments, quizzes, and mobile boost learning, to help employees retain newly learned collaboration knowledge and behaviors
- Recognizing and rewarding individuals who practice and promote collaboration
Teamwork and collaboration in the workplace don’t happen on their own; they must be cultivated. When individuals have support from leaders and understand how they can work collaboratively, silos break down and teams become more productive.