How to Encourage Team Members to Collaborate
Cliches aren’t always true. For example, you’ve probably heard people say that “too many cooks ruin the soup,” suggesting that having too many people on a project can spell disaster for that project. But, in the workplace, having more than one “cook” on a project can be a good thing. Collaborating with a team can mean that roadblocks are broken through more quickly, problems solved more easily, and more ideas are generated.
But collaboration isn’t always smooth sailing, to steal another cliche. People can have different opinions or might have trouble communicating with each other. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can encourage your employees to work together and to foster a collaborative spirit at your company.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
The first step towards collaboration is making sure everyone knows why they are working together and what they are working towards. In order for a team to truly be a team, it needs to be working towards a shared goal.
There are a few ways you can get everyone on the same page when it comes to a project. The first option is to hold a brainstorming session, during which you and other members of the team decide on a goal , discuss the reason for the goal, what will be done to reach the goal and put a plan in place to achieve it.
Another option is for a leader to have a goal or project in mind, then approach employees who might be interested in working towards that goal or participating in the project. This might seem like a less collaborative approach, since the entire team wasn’t involved in the initial goal setting or planning. But it can streamline the process of getting a project off of the ground and can help everyone involved feel as though they are there for a specific purpose.
Have Clearly Defined Roles
Jealousy can often get in the way of a collaborative spirit. So can having one member of a team feel as if all of the work and responsibility are falling on his or her shoulders. One way to avoid that and to foster true collaboration is to clearly define the responsibilities and roles of each team member.
Defining people’s roles can be as simple as divvying up the day’s tasks and having people volunteer to take them one. Who ever volunteers is expected to complete the task, no matter what.
Another option is to divide up roles and responsibilities based on people’s positions at your company or after reviewing each team member’s performance in the previous quarter or year. When determining who will do what, it’s often helpful to decide roles based on people’s strengths, rather than having people sign up for tasks or projects at random.
Don’t just define and assign roles, though. Work together as a team to figure out who will help whom and how each person can assist the others on the team to help complete the project and establish a sense of collaboration.
Give Them Access to Collaboration Tools
Make it easy for your team to work together and stay connected to each other by providing it with access to helpful collaboration tools. Those tools can include software programs or apps such as Skype and TeamWork, which allow people to communicate directly with each other, no matter where they are. Having a room or space at the office that’s dedicated to working together can also help teams collaborate more.
Have Them Work Close to Each Other
In some cases, the best way to get people to work together is to have them sit near each other when at work. A study from MIT found that proximity to teammates increased collaboration. The study specifically looked at research papers and patents, but it can be applied to other aspects of business, too. According to the study, people who shared a workspace, even if they were in different disciplines, were more likely to work together than people who worked 400 meters apart. Working 800 meters away from someone made collaboration even less likely.
Remember that your collaborators don’t have to be employees. You can also collaborate with a partner company, such as New Direction Capital, to help with your company’s strategic planning and financial management. To learn more about collaborating with New Direction Capital, contact us today.