Hiring a bunch of people to join your staff is hard work, but it can be just as much effort to get them to actually become a team. If you aren’t careful, your employees will continue to be disjointed individuals working in the same office, instead of becoming a unified front working towards a common goal.
Think about teams you’ve been a part of in the past. It’s normal for your employees to feel a natural sense of competition with each other, and it’s also normal to be wary of trusting someone else with any part of their job requirements. Facilitating team collaboration is key, and will ultimately lead to happier team members and more productivity in the workplace.
Facilitating collaboration can be a little challenging, especially since it isn’t something that can be forced. Instead, you should focus on making changes to your company culture and your management skills to allow it to happen naturally. Let’s take a look at six strong ways to consistently improve team collaboration in your office.
The last thing you want is to end up with an environment where everyone is out for themselves. This can get ugly real fast, and ultimately lead to distrust amongst coworkers, resulting in higher stress levels overall.
By offering the support and tools that every single member of the team needs, no one feels like they’re competing for resources. This includes everything from regular training, having someone to go to for extra help when they’re stumped, basic office equipment like pens and paper, and even office snacks (being hangry isn’t great for morale).
When employees have what they need, it’s easier for them to feel secure and appreciated, which in turn can make it a little easier for them to trust their colleagues.
Transparency is big for collaboration, because everyone is up to date with what their team members are working on.
Through transparency, employees know who to go to for approval, how and where to access files, and exactly how the work they’re doing fits into the big picture–making it easier to work cohesively as a team (and, on the managerial side, making it easier to lead teams, too.)
Tools like notion.so will help create an open view that shows exactly what everyone is working on, giving you that transparency that employees love and that team collaboration thrives on.
Communication is key to collaboration, and whether your team is in-office or remote, lighting-fast communication options are the way to go.
There are several chat-based communication tools that make this easy, including options like Slack. These tools allow you to have communication threads, tagging and involving the people who need to see it and breaking the messaging down into organized messages that are easy to follow and find later. This often works better than email, which can get missed or accidentally leave someone out, and may be more difficult to follow after a few messages have been sent back and forth.
There are plenty of incredible chat communication tools available for businesses, but you can read about our top choices here.
People who get to know each other will feel more comfortable relying on their team mates for crucial tasks and even making compromises when necessary. At the very least, they can understand how to work with their team members even if they wouldn’t ever be best friends outside of the office.
Fostering team environments doesn’t have to be anything formal or structured, but it should be a core part of your company culture. Consider having your managers take their teams out to lunch, have cake and cards for office birthdays, and have an office holiday party with Secret Santa.
You should also consider having meetings once a week with everyone either on a conference call or in the room. Leaving a little extra room in the schedule for small talk or welcoming jokes may not be the most productive meeting ever, but they can do a lot to help with improving the team environment.
Keep in mind, too, that you want to encourage everyone to work together and take ownership of their work. That means that everyone should be able to offer suggestions for how to move forward with projects, even if they’re newer to the company or they’re in a more entry-level role. Great ideas can come from all angles, and it’s good to feel like you’re contributing.
It’s important to encourage collaboration not only within direct teams but outside of them, too. The work your employees do, after all, is unlikely to be truly contained to the specific team they’re working on.
Cross-functional project sprints can help get people working together who may not have interacted as much otherwise. This is similar to what Google does but for your own internal team, pairing up your employees into small teams that are pulled from different departments. Each team is asked to generate new business ideas, which will be presented later on with everyone participating.
We do this here at Hoppier, and call it our “Hackathon,” and we wholeheartedly recommend it!
One of the best ways to improve team collaboration is to leverage individual employee’s strengths to the team. This keeps everyone happy while ensuring that the team overall is excelling as much as possible.
Even if you have five people in the exact same role who have had the exact same training and come from similar backgrounds, they’ll have their own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. You want to take these into consideration.
When I worked as a jewelry salesperson, for example, I was always great at the technical side of the sales presentation, and I was good at reading the customer. If I had to give a 4C’s education and know when to close, I was your person. I was, however, downright terrible at selling the romance. One of my co-workers, on the other hand, struggled in the areas I excelled in, but could evoke romance like no other. We worked well together once our manager pointed this out, and together our sales skyrocketed quickly.
Try to identify your team members’ individual strengths and personal likes, and then position them in roles accordingly. One marketer may like strategy development, while another excels at execution; eliminating frustrations from your team while playing to their strengths and framing it as a positive will help everyone work together.
Team collaboration increases productivity, and can make your staff happier and more satisfied with their jobs. No one wants to work on the team that’s hyper-competitive or that just doesn’t cooperate well.
These six strategies will help you facilitate an environment of trust, respect, and cooperation throughout your company, all while improving the quality of work that your team is producing. It’s as much of an investment into your business as other necessities like training and competitive pay, so you can’t afford to neglect it.
Looking for a fast way to support your team and encourage collaboration? Check out Hoppier’s office supplies and snacks subscriptions here!