5 Tips to Building a Collaborative Team

Be it the world of fictions or the world of hard-core busi­ness, team­work paves the way to success ever­y­where. A colla­bo­ra­tive team is probably the best weapon you can have to win against your competitors.

“Alone we can do so little, toge­ther we can do so much.”

HELLEN KELLER

Why Collaborate?

Colla­bo­ra­tion helps you to create a team-oriented work­force that promotes a great envi­ron­ment to work and ensures your employees’ job satis­fac­tion. However, it is a chal­len­ging task to imple­ment a colla­bo­ra­tive envi­ron­ment as it calls for a para­digm shift, chan­ging the focus to the success of the team as a whole and not on indi­vi­dual accomplishment.

That being said, colla­bo­ra­tion is a teach­able skill. All your team needs to do is harness their strengths in order to reach the common orga­niz­a­tional goals. After all, it is the strength of indi­vi­dual members of a team working toge­ther that makes a company successful. Other orga­niz­a­tional charac­te­ris­tics such as unique stra­tegy, inno­va­tive approach, crea­tive intel­li­gence, strong leadership, trust, and work culture are also important in defi­ning the success of a company, but colla­bo­ra­tive team­work plays a pivotal role. This applies for busi­nesses of all size and shape.

Your team of highly skilled and expe­ri­enced profes­sio­nals should also under­stand the value of colla­bo­ra­tion and clear commu­ni­ca­tion in order to build the trust within the team. This has become even more important in today’s scen­ario where most orga­niz­a­tions empha­size virtual team­work to bring in highly educated specia­lists and create a diverse team to manage chal­len­ging projects.

A colla­bo­ra­tive envi­ron­ment allows team members to commu­ni­cate freely, under­stand emotional intel­li­gence, share ideas and know­ledge as well as resources, learn from each other, and so on. But more import­antly, it helps teams to be flexible.

But the ques­tion is: How to build a colla­bo­ra­tive team? What should an entre­pre­neur or manager do to empower their colla­bo­ra­tive teams?

Read on for the following 5 tips to streng­then your organization’s ability to perform complex colla­bo­ra­tive tasks.

1. Provide Leadership Support

The success of your team’s colla­bo­ra­tive effort largely depends on the philo­sophy of your organization’s top execu­tives and leaders. They need to create suppor­ting social rela­ti­ons­hips with team members and demons­trate colla­bo­ra­tive beha­vior at every level. Your employees should be able to interact with leaders and colleagues alike, gaining a valu­able and meaningful expe­ri­ence. It is, in fact, an arcane fact that flexible, suppor­tive and task- and rela­ti­onship-oriented leaders are impe­ra­tive to the most produc­tive teams.

2. Set Ground Rules

It is essen­tial to estab­lish team norms to define how each member would interact with each other and conduct them­selves. Estab­li­shing ground rules help team members express things that are important to them and learn from each other without distur­bing the work culture. In addi­tion, it plays a signi­fi­cant role in the success of a project. Having ground rules in place even before star­ting a project will provide a context for discus­sing any issues arising in the future. This will help you avoid frus­tra­ting inter­ac­tions and grie­vances, arising due to miscom­mu­ni­ca­tion or misun­derstan­ding. Clear ground rules also diffuse some of the stress so that your team members can better focus on the end results.

3. Establish Realistic Expectations & Clarify Goals

In a colla­bo­ra­tive envi­ron­ment, each team member under­stands their roles and are accoun­table for the tasks assi­gned to them. But for that, you need to set expec­ta­tions clearly so that your team members are aware of their roles in the bigger picture. This also helps indi­vi­dual members to focus on their tasks and goals. Realistic expec­ta­tions form the foun­da­tion of a successful, effi­cient and flexible team.

The next task is to clarify the roles each team member would play. For this, you need to:

  • Relate each member’s expec­ta­tions to the overall purpose of the team
  • Clarify respon­si­bi­li­ties when crea­ting the work plan
  • Review roles of each member frequently
  • Encou­rage and allow an indi­vi­dual to learn from other members
  • Help each other

4. Organize the Process

It is impos­sible to build a colla­bo­ra­tive envi­ron­ment unless you orga­nize your opera­tions and processes. In addi­tion to provi­ding support and clari­fying roles and respon­si­bi­li­ties of each team member, you need to provide them a plat­form to share their ideas and feed­back. Your team is a group of stran­gers until you allow them to parti­ci­pate in decision making and think like a united team.

Include your team members in major decisions related to the projects they are working upon. Allow them to commu­ni­cate current work­flows seam­lessly and in real time. While huddles are good enough to serve the purpose if you are working with teams within the orga­niz­a­tions, for remote workers and employees working in multiple loca­tions you need to invest in a robust project manage­ment tool.

The best option here is to have an agile project manage­ment tool that supports Scrum or Kanban methods or both to provide extreme flexi­bi­lity to orga­niz­a­tions. Such tools help busi­nesses create a colla­bo­ra­tive envi­ron­ment, keeping ever­yone (inclu­ding team members and external colla­bo­ra­tors) on the same page.

5. Build Trust

To build a colla­bo­ra­tive team you need to first create a work envi­ron­ment based on trust. Trus­ting each other and trus­ting the orga­niz­a­tion is essen­tial to promo­ting crea­ti­vity and inno­va­tion. Both these factors have certain risks asso­ciated with them. Crea­ti­vity and inno­va­tion, in their rawest forms, are nothing but ideas and sugges­tions. They may sound ridi­cu­lous, stupid or even irrele­vant in the initial stage. But you need to trust your employees and vice versa to commu­ni­cate ideas freely and easily. This cannot happen without an envi­ron­ment of trust.

You can never force your team members to parti­ci­pate or share their ideas unless they feel trusted and respected. Worst still, they often fear being ridi­culed, which is a killer of inno­va­tion and success. Promo­ting your team’s auto­nomy, on the other hand, will help indi­vi­dual members discover better ways of achie­ving their goals. Even if they make mistakes and misjud­ge­ment, you really won’t lose much as long as they are ready to learn from those mistakes and inefficiencies.

Conclusion

Truly colla­bo­ra­tive teams aim to bridge all the gaps, both indi­vi­du­ally and collec­tively. But this doesn’t happen in one day. A colla­bo­ra­tive team is the result of years of effort. These five points mentioned here only describes the charac­te­ris­tics of highly colla­bo­ra­tive teams, but to imple­ment it success­fully each of your team members must be willing to work towards it. They often need to place the team’s success over their indi­vi­dual accom­plish­ment – some­thing which is not very easy to estab­lish. It is however worth the effort.

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