The Must-Have Guide For Effectively Collaborating In The Workplace
We live in an age where the market is flooded with new and budding businesses working to make it big in the corporate world. With so much competition, companies need to step up their workplace morale, and one effective way to do that is to incorporate collaboration wherever possible.
It’s more than just teamwork…
It’s your ticket to long-term success!
What Is Collaboration?
Collaboration in the workplace can easily be described as “when two or more people work together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a task” and has been a long-standing foundation of corporate success.
The benefits of collaboration are staggering, however, it seems to be an area many corporations struggle to implement successfully. In fact, research has shown that nearly 75% of employers view collaboration in the workplace as an important aspect of success, but often fail to implement it effectively and review its effectiveness within their organization.
With so few companies following through with collaborative environments, the ones that do truly stand apart and will retain their employees much longer than those that don’t offer collaborative opportunities.
Why Is Collaborating In The Workplace Important?
As an employee health benefit and human resource provider, Gusto discovered that 52% of individuals who took their Employee Happiness Survey would consider quitting their job if collaboration – and the sense of community that comes along with it – was missing from their work environment. Additionally, a survey done by Queens University in Charlotte, found that 39% of the employees felt their workplace didn’t offer enough collaboration.
By not evolving your company to include collaboration in a way that works, you’ll be looking at an alarmingly high turnover rate, and spending an unnecessary amount on retraining new employees to fill those spots on a regular basis.
The missing component of collaboration causes both higher turnover rates AND creates lower rates of project quality (or even project completion) altogether!
Collaborating In The Workplace Benefits Both The Business And The Employees
There have been many studies that have looked at the outcomes of collaboration in the workplace, and it’s been proven time and time again that successful implementation has staggering benefits not only to your business but for your employees as well.
In a study done by Saïd Business School of Oxford University, it was determined that when employees are happy, they become 13% more productive, while a survey by WeWork and Ipsos found that individuals who had collaborative team opportunities were of the most satisfied group of employees and felt it was the best way to boost their careers. By creating a work environment where your employees are provided with a collaborative team to help pull the weight of projects, you allow them to apply their efforts to their areas of strength without the concern of falling short in the rest of the project.
When employees begin working as a team, they’ll build essential skills (such as problem-solving and creativity) that can be created more powerfully through collaboration with others. These skills continue to be developed via the environment the employee is in and more often, the people they are working with, as they will be exposed to a variety of skill sets and experiences.
What Does Collaboration Look Like In The Workplace?
There are 4 main ways you can tell if collaboration is present within a workplace, and they’re a great way to determine if your workplace is implementing collaboration effectively.
Communication is key in any work environment, but when it comes to collaboration, communication becomes non-negotiable. It’s paramount when working in a team.
Communication has a variety of aspects that need to work in harmony if a team is going to find success. These include active listening, written and verbal communication, and non-verbal communication. These all play a vital role in how a member’s message is heard when sharing with the group, and it influences how the team will respond in kind.
When working as a team, it’s imperative that each member is able to communicate effectively in a way that will not only make them feel heard and understood but also allow them to feel confident in sharing their ideas for team consideration.
If communication is lacking, it can have a ripple effect on the entire morale of the team. In a survey completed by Accountemps, they found that 33% of HR managers felt most morale problems were directly related to a breakdown of communication among employees, clearly depicting the importance of communications skills within a team environment.
Any strong team will possess communications skills that are unparalleled, and use them to work cohesively and respectfully with one another.
When working as a team, accountability can create incredible results…or be devastating for the team’s outcome. The role it will play is inherently up to those members in the team, the standards of the leaders, and the trust they have in one another.
If members struggle to take responsibility for their assigned portion or fail to communicate effectively during essential meetings, it can create an environment where the project will suffer and each team member will begin only taking themselves into consideration. It becomes less of a team atmosphere and more competition amongst each other…which doesn’t bode well for the project they’re sharing.
However, more often than not, teams will develop a deep-rooted trust for one another and become even more engaged with their portion of the project. By working in a collaborative environment, team members have a higher level of engagement in large part due to their respect for their team and knowing their contributions will be a reflection on the team as a whole, and will directly affect the other members. Many people will work harder to produce a high standard of work when it directly relates to others as well.
How accountability influences your company’s collaborative teams rests in how it is introduced and guided from within.
Diversity is one of the most important factors when considering the members of the collaborative team. It fosters a healthy, well-rounded knowledge base and allows for a variety of skill sets for the team.
In a recent post by Forbes, they shared their companies outlook in regards to collaboration, stating “we employ a cross-section of people of different generations and experience levels, we encourage multiple points of view to be expressed without judgement and stress the importance of teamwork.”
Only certain people can bring certain aspects to a team, making diversity the only way to ensure you have a team that can bring high calibre projects home that honor the differences individuals experience. In an interview with Salesforce, Elaine Welteroth, the first Black beauty and health director at Teen Vogue said of leaders that “while you, as an individual, do not need to reflect the diversity of the world and you won’t deeply understand the complex issues facing every kind of community – it is your responsibility to hire for your blind spots by making sure your team is reflective of the world.”
Creating your team with intention, and allowing space for a diverse set of outlooks and experiences will help shape the final product of any project.
Employee appreciation is becoming more and more important in the workforce. People want to know their work is being noticed, and they want reassurance that what they’re doing is great. Without that, companies risk an increased turnover rate in employees or a decrease in productivity and quality of work.
Based on a 10 year study, the O.C. Tanner Learning Group found that of all employees who quit their jobs, 79% listed the key reason for their departure as a lack of appreciation, and 65% reported that over the last year, they weren’t recognized by their company once.
These stats give us a very clear insight into the importance appreciation plays in the workplace. When employees feel their efforts won’t be noticed, they feel as if their work (and inherently themselves) aren’t valuable members. Simple acts of appreciation can create a healthier, happier work environment for all.
The 5 Pillars to Creating Successful Collaboration
1. Team Building
In our recent blog 7 Super-Effective Ways to Boost Employee Morale, we discussed the importance of team building and the positive effects it can have on your company. By creating an environment where your employees are working together towards a common goal, you are effectively removing the pressure from your employees to create something amazing on their own. When you allow them the opportunity to work to their strengths, while other members of the team complete the other aspects that are more well suited to their abilities, each member of the team will enjoy their jobs more and provide them with the opportunity to produce a higher caliber of work.
According to British Council’s Business Magazine, “working together as a team allows people to achieve things that could never be done by just one person…people who are collaborating on tasks stay interested for longer, feel less tired and get better results than people working alone.”
2. Communication Development
In a survey done by Queens University of Charlotte, they found that communication training was provided to 27% of participants, and it was nearly only those individuals who felt confident in their communication abilities at work.
The development of communication skills is essential for all teams, as it will set the foundation for how they navigate their professional relationship and their ability to collaborate together successfully. Communication is at the base of every team, and developing their ability to do so effectively will set them up for success, and also create a work environment that is comfortable and respectful for each member.
3. Small Project Groups
Research has shown that when a team grows beyond 20 members, there is a clear regression in collaboration. This naturally occurs when so many lines of communication are open at once for a single project. With too many various ideas and opinions, it’s hard to settle on a common direction for the project.
Smaller teams can get more in-depth and create a clear line of communication, allowing every member’s ideas to be heard and considered. This fosters a more intimate work environment, allowing the team to dive deeper into the project and provides an atmosphere where members can work to their own personal strengths and come together to review and revise to create a cohesive outcome that is hard to beat.
4. Clear Communication of Expectations
No team can thrive without a clear list of expectations. By knowing the exact outcome a team is looking for, they can work backwards from it and create a roadmap for the members to navigate in respect to their position in the project.
A clear list of expectations minimizes confusion throughout the timeline of the project, and can mitigate any disagreements between team members as they arise by referencing the expectations document that was agreed upon at the start of the project.
Having clear communication is essential in helping each member understand their role and the common outcome, so they can create a final product that flows seamlessly together.
5. Judgement-Free Idea Sharing
In a workplace equality and values report by Salesforce, they discovered that “employees are more productive when they feel they belong, are heard, and are able to be their authentic self at work” stating that from their survey they found 75% of employees who felt a sense of belonging at their company were empowered to perform their best work.
Being able to speak freely and respectfully, while knowing your team will listen and respond in kind, greatly increases the number of ideas provided and is directly related to the quality of work that can be created by each team member, while fostering a healthy and enjoyable work atmosphere for the team.
Creating an environment where employees have the freedom to share ideas without concern for judgement, provides a workplace culture where idea sharing begins to thrive and produce higher quality work.
An added benefit is that brainstorming with others opens the mind to perspectives that may not have been considered before and could not have been without first being exposed to it via another member of the team. It teaches each member of the team new ways to think when presented with future problems, making it easy to surpass previous project goals and aim higher.
In conclusion, implementing and further developing collaboration in your workplace can help your company thrive, creating a happier work environment where your employees find deeper engagement with their work, develop a more productive work ethic, and bring projects to completion that far exceed the competition.
Set your employees up for success and allow your company to thrive by successfully creating a collaborative work environment.