As businesses look to maximize productivity, collaboration is moving up the agenda. But what are the tricks to working as part of a team?
Many people thrive in a collaborative environment, recognising the value of working alongside colleagues in pursuit of shared goals. Other professionals take a little more coercing, preferring to work on their own without the input of other team members.
As businesses look to maximise productivity in order to have a positive impact on their bottom lines, collaborative working is moving up the agenda. Business leaders understand that their employees each have different skills and knowledge sets, and combining these leads to improved end results.
So if you’re not comfortable working in a team environment, this may have to change in the months and years to come. Businesses have access to an array of technologies, which support collaboration – even when professionals are based in different locations.
This is encouraging more firms to embrace the culture of collaboration, recognising that the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts. With this in mind, here are a few tips on how to work effectively as part of a team.
Set clear goals
When working collaboratively, it is important that everyone involved has a clear idea of the end goal. This will ensure everyone remains focused and on-task, boosting efficiency and also increasing the likelihood that a solution will be found to the problem.
Recognise your role
What sort of a team are you working in? Has it been put together to resolve a specific problem, to come up with new ideas or develop a tactical plan? Often teams will touch upon all three areas, but the primary purpose of your group should influence its composition, in terms of personnel.
Allow individual expression
Working in a collaborative environment does not mean individuals should be stifled – far from it. Each member of the team should be actively encouraged to contribute, bringing his or her own ideas to the table and having a voice. The difference between team and lone working is that there are other people to bounce your ideas off. This helps with quality control, planning and refinement.
Often, particular individuals will gravitate towards certain roles, such as team leader, or prototype developer. In order to get the most out of everybody – including those who are less eager to promote themselves and their capabilities – it is important to rotate roles. This helps keep things fresh and ensures team members approach each individual project from a different standpoint.
Ensure communication channels are open
This is likely to be more of an issue if team members are based across different rooms or even locations. Tools such as instant messaging, chat, email, social media, and video conferencing mean it is easy to keep everybody in the loop, providing real-time updates. This ensures all decisions made are properly documented, and each participant is aware of the latest developments, whatever their particular role on the project may be.
Teams should always look to assess how they have performed, identifying strengths, weaknesses and room for improvement. Where possible, use metrics to demonstrate how much progress has been made towards a particular goal
Make joint decisions
Where possible, look to make unanimous decisions which, following discussion and debate, all members agree upon. Teams are likely to work together far more effectively if everyone ‘buys in’ to a particular course of action. If majority decisions are taken, an extra effort must be made to keep the dissenters on board and working towards the end goal.
Make use of technology
There’s more to collaboration than simply working together and sharing information. True collaboration enables teams to work simultaneously or at different times towards a common goal.
Put simply, you don’t necessarily need to be online or in real-time contact with a colleague as long as you are working with tools that enable you to contribute towards the same end. Technology that facilitates real time co-editing of documents, video conferencing and even enterprise social networking will facilitate stronger communication and clarity.