Last Updated On February 12, 2021 / Written By Lauren Christiansen

The What, Why, and How of Team Collaboration

What is Team Collaboration?

Team collaboration refers to a business approach that fosters communication and effective task management in the workplace. Its purpose is to emphasize creative thinking, cooperation, and equal involvement across departments.

In the business environment, individuals need to work together to complete tasks and meet performance objectives. Successful organizations understand the importance of fostering effective team collaboration to ensure this process is successful.

Organizations that optimize teamwork have stronger internal relationships and streamlined business activities, which assists in meeting key performance indicators and increasing the bottom line.

  • 75% of employees and managers say teamwork is extremely important in an organization
  • 86% of executives say a lack of communication led to workplace failures
  • 80% of businesses use collaboration solutions to optimize communication
  • 54% of workers say a strong sense of community keeps them at an organization longer than they normally would

Why Team Collaboration Matters

Communication is the glue that holds an organization together. When a company fails to encourage and foster effective communication, it's more difficult to complete projects, maintain employee morale, and encourage new customers to do business.

Team collaboration only works when an organization has streamlined effective communication. A business that fosters communication ensures teamwork is possible. Encouraging daily collaboration on business processes by optimizing communication is how to increase productivity and achieve profitability.

Why Team Collaboration is Important

By utilizing different communication mediums and techniques, employees can work together to meet a common objective. When a successful team is meeting goals, the company strengthens customer relationships and achieves revenue goals. Here are the top 3 reasons why team collaboration matters -

  • Encourages Brainstorming - Collaboration allows employees to work together to achieve a familiar objective through creative thinking, idea-sharing, and providing different viewpoints to solve problems.

  • Generates Value - When employees work to meet a similar objective, it gives everyone a sense of importance. There are mutual advantages gained by collaborating for both team members and the business.

  • Provides Equal Opportunities - Working together gives each group member an equal chance to share ideas and get involved.

  • Promotes Self-Analysis - Team collaboration challenges each employee to think and analyze complex situations. It helps individuals assess their strengths and weaknesses to see where they can improve performance.

  • Better Problem-Solving - When different skill sets and expertise levels are placed together, it becomes a pool of talent that is better equipped to solve problems.

  • Ability to View the Big Picture - When working individually on a project, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all of the various requirements. Working with other group members helps to see a comprehensive picture of what needs to be accomplished and why.

  • Promotes a Culture of Learning - Everyone in a group learns something new from other members because each individual has a different skill set that others don't have. This increases the knowledge of the workforce and encourages information-sharing so everyone meets key objectives.

The Benefits of Team Collaboration

Team collaboration is useful to both employees and the organization as a whole. An organization cannot have good external relationships with clients and vendors when internal collaboration and communication is poor.

By boosting morale and building relationships through group work, the entire business achieves its value proposition.Strengthening internal operations through effective team collaboration and building activities provide several other advantages for an organization, including -

1. Increases Productivity

Good team collaboration improves productivity levels because members can exploit their colleagues' strengths and curtail any of their inefficiencies.

For example, one team member may be skilled at writing proposals, which makes up for another members' lack of writing skills. As a result, projects are completed in a shorter time length and with higher quality than they would be if each person worked alone in real time.

If team members are using an optimized software solution to complete a requirement, productivity levels will further increase because workers can easily communicate and share data.

2. Encourages Skill-Building

Working together is equally important for both the company and employees. When individuals cooperate to complete a project, they share information and expertise that brings out the best in others. It also allows each employee to see how others fix problems and use their skill sets in day-to-day work life.

This provides a chance to learn new skills, acquire different knowledge, and utilize them in a different field. Learning from different perspectives also provides a framework that helps minimize personal bottlenecks and performance problems.

3. Better Problem-Solving

When people work together, every business process and required task is accomplished much more quickly. A person may take weeks to resolve a problem alone but can use the expertise and knowledge of others to fix the problem in a day.

Different viewpoints allow everyone to come up with new ideas and recommendations that one employee may not be able to think of alone.

4. Improved Employee Engagement

When employees can work with others to complete business processes, they start building relationships. Everyone can get to know one another on a more personal level and feel like they are part of a larger community.

Strong internal relationships that foster effective communication assists in increasing employee morale and decreasing the turnover rate.

Because workers can rely on one another to complete tasks and know other team members on a personal level, they tend to be happier at work, which optimizes employee engagement.

5. Aligns Employee Goals

A team achieves a united objective by combining individual and group efforts. When there is a single objective to meet, each individual knows what to do and why because he/she understands how those duties fit into the larger objective.

Skills and expertise are combined to optimize each business process and achieve the united objective. When individual goals are aligned with the larger objective, there is an effective support system that fosters knowledge-sharing and improved efficiency.

6. Greater Versatility

Versatility is a consequence of effective team collaboration. Each team member recognizes his/her role and how it assists in achieving the final objective, which prepares everyone for unforeseen circumstances.

Effective teams know how to predict future problems and can work together to mitigate any disruptions before they happen.

On the other hand, if a team cannot adapt well to changing workflows or requirements, it is more difficult to achieve this versatility. As a result, an organization will not gain the benefits from teamwork that they otherwise would.

Strategies to Ensure Effective Collaboration

While the benefits of teamwork are indisputable, some challenges arise from enforced collaboration. Managers don't always recognize the importance of teaching team building and are flummoxed when individuals aren't working well together.

Effective collaboration is an organization-wide effort that requires integrating a set of values in every part of the company. Here are the best practices to ensure collaboration is effective in the workplace

1. Share the Mission Repeatedly

Workers need a reason to stay employed at the company other than just receiving a paycheck. Reiterating the company's mission regularly helps employees feel connected to a higher purpose and set of values, which optimizes engagement.

Workers should feel as though their work matters and that each requirement is helping to achieve a greater purpose. When they know that each role and function have a purpose, they'll be more willing to engage with others to complete business processes.

2. Set Expectations

If employees aren't sure that they are supposed to work together during team time, they probably won't.

Managers are responsible for setting collaboration rules, policies, and expectations. Discussing the importance of collaboration during the onboarding process will ensure employees understand these policies.

By listing descriptions about individual roles and collaborative roles in any job ads, new hires will know exactly when they are supposed to work together and when to work alone.

3. Define Goals

Team members can't work together effectively if they don't know exactly what they are supposed to do and why.

Every day, team leaders should discuss what is required from each member and then provide a timeline to ensure accountability.

By utilizing a set of KPIs to track performance and then meeting daily to define objectives, it ensures everyone works more efficiently.

4. Appreciate Individual Talent

Employee morale and productivity decrease when staff members don't feel appreciated for hard work. Regular praise for those who meet KPIs will do wonders to foster engagement and effective team collaboration.

While not everyone is a born leader, each person was hired because of his/her unique talents. Good managers know how to pinpoint and encourage these talents to improve teamwork and encourage knowledge-sharing.

5. Invest in Knowledge-Sharing Tools

Knowledge and expertise should be easily accessible by team members. Organizations that optimize knowledge-sharing have improved collaboration efforts. This requires investing in tools, techniques, and systems that make it easier to access necessary information when needed.

Internal collaboration software systems such as Slack allow workers to upload documents, discuss projects, and collaborate as a group. This creates a space to share perspectives, inefficiencies, and provide solutions.

  • Flowdock - Chat forum
  • GoToMeeting - Online video conference software
  • WebEx - Provides personal video meeting rooms
  • Trello - A management tool that monitors tasks and projects
  • Millanote - Useful for blogging and organizing creative projects

What is the Silo Effect?

The silo effect arises when different business units within a company cannot communicate with one another, resulting in decreased efficiency and teamwork. This frequently causes two teams to work on the same project without the other knowing about it, which leads to duplicate efforts and wasted time.

The silo effect occurs among remote workers, with poor management, when there is ineffective communication, or if there are misaligned goals. Regardless of the circumstance, a segmented workforce can negatively impact employee engagement.

Employees need to be able to reach others to solve problems or it's impossible to perform their jobs. When connectivity is not fostered in an organization, worker morale decreases. As a result, businesses cannot meet productivity goals, resolve bottlenecks, or achieve profitability.

While the digital transformation has optimized connectivity, the silo effect is still a regular problem. With businesses frequently employing remote teams, it's more important now than ever before to eliminate it.

Improving cross-team partnerships and decreasing segmentation by utilizing the correct tools and strategies is essential for achieving business goals.

How to Improve Collaboration Across Teams

Minimizing the silo effect by fostering communication across business units will ensure productivity and efficiency in the workplace. When teams are misaligned during a crisis or disruption, it wastes time and money.

Preventing communication bottlenecks requires team leaders to promote information-sharing, gain feedback, and implement best practices. Here are the top strategies to improve collaboration across teams

1. Set Up a Foundation for Communication

A cross-unit collaborative team and effective communication require an infrastructure. Team leaders should ask members how they prefer to communicate and then establish a set of policies to optimize connectivity. Components of this foundation may include

  • The types of communication mediums used, how often meetings occur, and what the responsibilities of each team are.
  • An overview of the desired outcome, including a set of KPIs and metrics to track progress.
Establishing an infrastructure for communication will help the work team know who to contact in case a problem occurs, or if assistance is needed with a project. It will also streamline day-to-day operations and ensure each department is successful in meeting objectives.

2. Optimize Adaptability

Setting up the foundation for effective communication is important for ensuring the best results, but team leaders must be open to circumstances that force the infrastructure to evolve.

For example, if a series of problems occur in one department, it's better to focus on solving those problems first to make sure a business process is completed on time. Team members should be flexible enough to handle crises as they arise so everyone can get back on track.

3. Use Visual Boards and Communication Tools

Visual display boards are effective tools to compile information in one place and make sure that everyone sees it. Managers use these boards to provide updates, additional information, or explain any unforeseen situation.

Virtual collaboration tools or a management tool are particularly helpful for remote teams who may not have the ability to see immediate updates.

Team members should be encouraged to check the intranet, social media page, visual board, or virtual collaboration board every day. This ensures everyone is informed about what they need to do and why which helps optimize resource allocation. Boards may include

  • Any projects or team goals for that day, along with who is responsible for them. Timelines should also be included to enforce accountability.
  • A chart that lists the most essential goals, any important milestones, and required cross-collaboration.
  • A list of all of the department members and how they are organized.
  • Schedules (if applicable).
  • A section that discussed any risks and how the team should mitigate them.
Video conferencing is also an effective way to foster communication, particularly for remote teams. It's important to consider time zone differences before setting up meetings so everyone can attend.

Setting up regular one-on-one meetings along with group meetings can be helpful to pinpoint personal and group bottlenecks that are impacting productivity levels.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, here is what to know about team collaboration

  • Team collaboration encourages brainstorming, generates value, promote equal opportunities, optimizes problem-solving, and allows everyone to look at the bigger picture.
  • Benefits of team collaboration include increased productivity, better skill-building, better problem solving, improved engagement, an alignment of goals, and greater versatility.
  • To improve team collaboration, a company should share the mission regularly, set expectations, define goals, appreciate individual talent. Also, members need collaboration tools to optimize collaboration.
  • The silo effect results in decreased communication across business units, which impacts overall productivity. To improve communication, team leaders should set up a foundation for communication, optimize adaptability, and use visual boards, online collaboration systems, or a team collaboration tool.