When I think of collaboration, a famous quote from Helen Keller comes to mind -
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
Effective collaboration can achieve so much more than what one single team member can achieve.
Why do we collaborate?
I collaborate with my work colleagues to join our knowledge and ideas together in order to create the best outcome.
Just this week I sat with my colleague trying to achieve the best hook for a marketing pitch. Our collaboration process was very interesting. Even though we sit very close to each other, we found ourselves needing to share our screens, looking at various best practices, images and even famous quotes to encourage ideas.
We started out by saying ‘let’s work separately and create 3 ideas each, present them back to each other and then decide on the best idea’. That method very quickly vanished when we realised that talking through our ideas and sketching our plans into images and text was definitely the best way forward.
Within no time we had the ‘ah ha’ moment and presented the best hook to our CEO within less than 1 hour, with great feedback.
This made me think…… how did we arrive with this great idea so quickly and what worked really well for us?
Here’s my top 5 steps to improving your team’s collaboration
1. Leave egos at the door
It can sometimes be human nature to try to be the best at everything you do. Whilst ambition is an admirable quality not to be discouraged, when it comes to collaboration we must all be open to team member’s ideas and never assume that your idea is going to be the best idea.
All great ideas involve active listening, that means listening to everyone before deciding the outcome. You may hear an idea from a co-worker BUT did you actively listen to it? A great way of confirming what co-workers are suggesting, is to give feedback on their suggestions and confirm back to them what you think they meant. This avoids the ‘oh is that what you meant’ moment. By actively listening to your team members, they feel their opinion is valued and it builds trust and engagement in the team and the idea.
3. Be open and honest
If you don’t agree with an idea, be open and honest and give reasons for this, potentially suggesting alternative ideas. At the same time if a team member suggests an amazing idea, give credit where credit is due. Be clear and inclusive in how you communicate to allow team members to trust you and know that you trust them enough to be fully transparent. Having honest conversations and encouraging honest feedback will create a sense of workplace community, and increases positive collaboration.
4. Make it easy for people to connect
In today’s working world, teams tend to be dispersed across the globe or even across floors within buildings. Making it easier to connect to your team is highly important to encourage collaboration. Instead of working alone, make collaboration the goal across dispersed teams make it easier for them to connect by providing the communication and collaboration tools which will be easy for them to use.
5. Have fun
Love what you do, do what you love! Your team will be more successful when positivism, motivation and trust is high. Having fun together as a team is so important to ensure the team feels connected. Creating fun environments or huddle spaces for teams to share ideas and collaborate can have a huge effect on team morale and creativity.
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