6 Ways to Inspire Seamless and Productive Collaboration
Collaboration doesn’t always come naturally to a team, and that’s totally okay. It may take some time and effort to get to know each other, get into a rhythm, and understand what to expect each time you start a new project. Follow these tips, and you will find your team collaborating effectively in no time!
1. Make Collaboration Part of your Team’s Routine
Just like any other skill or process, practice makes perfect. Your team won’t be able to collaborate well without having the opportunity to learn each other’s work and communication styles. Try to purposefully incorporate teamwork into your organization’s regular routine. Don’t merely collaborate for collaboration’s sake, but pinpoint activities or tasks that may benefit from collaboration. Ask your team what they would like to accomplish together, and invite them to take the lead.
Collaboration doesn’t always have to be project-based. Consider holding weekly or monthly team meetings in which you brainstorm better ways to run your business. Encourage ideas about anything from sales and marketing tactics to streamlining communication and operations. Not only will you get a perspective of your business that you might not usually see as a business owner, but your employees or team members will also feel like their opinions matter and they will become more invested in your business doing well.
2. Communicate Expectations Early and Often
Set goals and timelines for projects that you’re collaborating on. Clearly communicate what you are working toward and why. This will help your team feel connected to the work they are doing and understand the importance or urgency of each step. Holding a kickoff meeting at the beginning of larger projects can help orient your team so you can intentionally start projects from an organized position.
It is the nature of projects to shift and change as you’re working on them. Priorities fluctuate. Strategies are refined. This is all part of the process, but it can become a roadblock if new expectations are not communicated to every team member working on a project. Regularly sharing and updating expectations will help your team stay on the same page working toward the same goal effectively.
3. Define Roles
Working together well comes down to each team member knowing their role and performing that role well. Nothing can hamper collaboration more than team members misunderstanding what part of the project they own. It might even make sense to assign someone as the leader of a project who can further delegate to other team members or pull disparate pieces of the project together. It also helps to be clear about what approvals are needed at different stages of the project so team members don’t go too far down a path that doesn’t make sense.
Without defining roles for your team members, they might be less inclined to take initiative. They might think tasks are someone else’s responsibility, or they could feel like they are stepping on toes by taking the lead. Your project will slow down or hit roadblocks when team members feel uncomfortable taking responsibility. Avoid this by directly asking your team if they understand their roles. Better yet, ask everyone to define their role out loud before getting started. Also, encourage your team to ask questions if they need to recalibrate.
4. Appreciate the Work of Each Team Member
Gratitude goes a long way to keep your team motivated throughout a project. It helps individuals feel like effective team members while creating a positive work environment. Demonstrating gratitude will also encourage your team members to express appreciation for each other as well. The recognition validates that team members are on the right track and that their work is purposeful and needed.
Expressing gratitude is also an opportunity to reinforce expectations. When you highlight a job well done, you encourage team members to replicate that high-quality work.
5. Use a Project Manager TOOL
We shout this from the hilltops every chance we get, but there’s really no reason to not take advantage of digital tools. Project managers, task managers, shared calendars, and other types of organizational tools are a lifesaver for teams in every industry and type of organization. Some of them are even free. They ensure every team member has access to project data and information whenever they need it. It helps organize communications about a project and keep your team aligned on expectations. Tips 2 and 3 in this list are even made easier by using a project manager!
Getting your project manager set up can take a bit of time and organization, but it will just become a standard practice in your collaboration process. (And, a Virtual Assistant can help you with that if needed!) Having a platform to support your collaboration will make your team more connected and productive. We recommend Asana or Monday.
6. Celebrate Milestones to Keep Everyone Invigorated
When planning your collaborative project and setting expectations, make sure to define certain milestones that will mark definitive progress. Then, celebrate when you reach them. Reward your team in some small, but appreciated way. Recap with your team the great work they did to get you there. Allow your team members to express how they feel about reaching this milestone, what went really well in the process, and what could be improved for next time.
After you are done celebrating, review your steps to the next milestone and make any changes if needed. You can even hint at the reward or celebration you will have after reaching the next milestone.
Collaboration depends on delegation. As a business owner, you’ll never be able to grow your company by doing everything yourself. That’s why it’s so important to collaborate—and to collaborate well. You will eventually need to offload tasks to your team and trust they will succeed in their given role. We hope these tips help you get there!
Our Virtual Assistants love to collaborate with business owners to discover the best balance of work to make running their businesses more efficient. To get started collaborating with a trusted partner in your business, schedule a free consultation.
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