7 Ways to Collaborate With Your Team to Improve Productivity

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of collaboration in the workplace environment has grown considerably in recent times, with most organizations now considering collaboration to be essential if they're to be successful. When an organization instructs its employees on how to better collaborate with the team, they're likely to see an increase in workplace efficiency and productivity. Understanding what collaboration entails and how to facilitate the process can be essential for realizing your team's full potential.

In this article, we define what collaboration is and discover the ways you can collaborate with your team.

Related: What is Collaborative Leadership? (7 Tips for Collaboration)

What is collaboration?

Before discussing the ways to collaborate with your team to improve productivity and develop a collaborative workplace environment, it's important to understand what the term collaboration means. Collaboration is a process that involves a group of people coming together and working toward a common team goal. It can involve individuals that are both internal and external to an organization. Each member of the team brings a unique skill set and area of expertise, meaning the team can approach problems from a range of different angles.

There has been a trend toward adopting collaborative approaches by businesses in the last decade, with many organizations enjoying the benefits that come with the open, honest communication and group work that is commonly associated with collaboration. Companies invest considerable financial resources into the tools that assist in collaboration, and the process itself has become increasingly important, given the growth of remote work options.

Related: Collaboration Skills: Definition and Examples

7 ways to collaborate with your team

These are seven popular ways to collaborate with your the team:

1. Establish a common goal

One key aspect of working collaboratively as a team is having a common goal. This gives the team focus and helps team members understand how their unique skills and experience are going to be useful in relation to the project at hand. It's vital, if team members are to work collaboratively, that they share the same vision for the project. The common goal guides the direction of the project and helps to ensure that all members of the team are employing their skills in the right direction.

Having a common goal ensures that all team members understand the relevance of the project they're working on and helps to minimize misunderstandings between team members over workload and work allocation. This means that the team members can spend their time working productively rather than trying to make sense of their role and its relevance to the project. It helps to provide a focus for discussions between team members and gives problem-solving and idea creation a direction.

Identify individual strengths

Another important way to promote collaboration within a team is to identify the individual strengths of the team members. This approach also means that the team recognizes each member's individual area of expertise. It's important that this information becomes common knowledge within the team, as team members can then more easily identify colleagues that may be of assistance if they run into difficulties on an aspect of the project they're working on. This increases the overall efficiency of the team.

One of the advantages of a highly collaborative team is the diversity of the members. Allocating tasks and directing workflow on the basis of the strengths of the team members can lead to the performance of the team increasing. It also means that team members have exposure to skills and expertise outside of their current knowledge base, creating a learning environment for the team. Over time, this has the effect of increasing the skills of the organizational workforce and increasing productivity and efficiency. It also contributes to increased job satisfaction.

Be an example

As a team leader, you're likely to hold some responsibility for the level of collaboration within the team environment. Team members, especially those new to the collaborative process, look to their leaders to illustrate how collaboration is going to work among the team members. Members are likely to react to the environment that the team leader creates. A leader that promotes trust is likely to create an environment where team members trust each other and their leaders, something that's essential in the collaborative process.

A team leader that's receptive to the exchange of ideas and promotes themselves as being open to suggestions from team members, irrespective of their seniority, is likely to create a collaborative environment. Other team members adopt these practices into their work, meaning the team can be confident in discussing new ideas or different approaches with each other.

It's vital that team leaders foster a supportive attitude toward team members that are learning new skills or contributing ideas. This helps develop an atmosphere of confidence and increases the likelihood of all team members being confident in contributing to the collaboration process.

Set up a workflow

Creating a workflow within the team is essential to the collaborative process. Simplifying the processes around collaboration and interactions with other team members helps to create efficiencies and ensures the team maintains its focus. It also means there are fewer misunderstandings regarding work allocation among the team members because everyone understands the specific role they're to play in reaching the project goals. In the event a team member has issues regarding what they're responsible for, it provides a record of this information.

Deadlines are a critical part of most projects. Having clearly defined workflows helps the team stay on track and ensures they meet any deadlines. A workflow promotes individual responsibility and accountability while encouraging a strong work ethic. Team members can clearly understand the role they play in meeting the deadlines and the impact they might have on other team members if they don't perform to the best of their ability.

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Use available technology

Technology that teams can use to promote the collaboration process has increased exponentially over the last decade, with a range of applications and platforms available to facilitate the process. Technology can help by accentuating the collaboration process. It also aids communication, especially if team members are not all working at the same location. Some ways technology can promote the creative environment include:

  • Workplace management software: This helps teams keep track of project progress and to ensure the project remains on schedule. A visual database makes access to the details of the path to completion available to each team member.

  • Messaging services: There is a wide range of options, including instant messaging and automated messaging services available, that aid communication between team members.

  • Teleconferencing services: The ability to teleconference other team members have become essential, allowing face-to-face meetings between remote team members and those at different locations. It also creates time savings, eliminating the need for team members to travel to meet.

  • Digital calendars: This tool provides another excellent way to keep track of project progress and deadlines. It also enables team members to easily arrange meetings and tasks with other team members through the use of shared calendars.

  • File sharing: By using file-sharing technology, multiple team members in multiple locations can view and work on the same documents. They also facilitate the easy flow of documents to relevant parties.

Set standards

By setting standards, teams provide their members with a clear set of expectations relating to their behaviour, the way they interact with others, and the standard of the work necessary. Standards provide the framework on which the team can build a collaborative environment and promote an atmosphere that encourages the process.

Standards relating to behaviour mean that team members can be confident when sharing their ideas and viewpoints. Team members have a responsibility relating to a given aspect of the project, with standards relating to organization, time management, and tracking to help ensure they meet the expectations relating to their work.

Consider the team culture

The culture of a team contributes to the success of collaboration within a team environment. Personal feelings and interactions are likely to affect the morale of individual employees, which impacts the way they interact with their colleagues. It also influences a team member's attitude to work, which impacts work performance. If collaboration is to live up to its potential, it's vital that there's an atmosphere of trust within the team and that the members feel supported by other team members. This type of positive environment is likely to increase work satisfaction, which contributes to increased efficiency and productivity.

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