With more teams working partially or completely on a remote basis, having the right skills for collaboration is essential to accomplishing goals. All of us have had to collaborate in some form or fashion because working together is part of nearly every job. However, it’s a common problem that employees and managers alike don’t have the proper training in how to collaborate effectively.
A little bit of awareness in best practices for collaboration can go a long way in making teamwork more productive and time-efficient. Even just a frank discussion that outlines the processes and procedures that make collaboration work will help align the entire team’s mindset in such a way that they want to (and can) do their best. Here are five best practices for collaboration to set your team up for success.
Get on the Same Page
No one should be out of the loop or otherwise confused about what ends they’re working towards individually and as a team. Make sure that goals and standards are clear to everyone in every step of the process. If anything changes, clearly explain in detail why and how a goal or process is being modified. Perfectly spelled-out long- and short-terms goals will be the key to your team’s ability to work together to achieve them.
Be Clear About Expectations
Just as goals should be crystal clear, so should expectations – the actions that team members will take to achieve those goals. Hand out assignments to individuals based on their interests, skillsets, and expertise. When they get their mission, let them know why it’s important and what role it plays in reaching the end goals. Be communicative about what each team member is working on and get them to share updates regularly. Aligning the expectations of individuals with those of the team will help ensure things get done right and on time.
Regular progress reports are an opportunity to check in to see that everything is going as planned. If it’s not, the parties involved need to be upfront about it. When team members aren’t performing or producing as expected, bring them aside to realign them with where they should be. Likewise, if team members aren’t getting along, it’s best to nip it in the bud right away rather than letting negative feelings fester. Bringing these matters to the appropriate team members’ immediate attention will keep things from going downhill later on.
Make Friends with Technology
Good people skills and professional expertise will get your projects done. The right technology will streamline your processes, speed up communication and provide team members with the productivity tools they need. Along with a high-quality videoconferencing platform, collaborative teams can benefit from project management software, knowledge management tools, project websites and wikis, and document-sharing services. A strategic assessment of your team’s technology needs before starting the project will give you insight into what tools would be essential to your team.
Make Your Meetings Worth the Effort
Meetings take time away from doing important work, and can be draining if they aren’t run smoothly. Avoid wasting time at meetings talking about extraneous topics and get down to the nitty gritty of why you’re getting together. Staying on topic shows respect for your team’s time and commitment to the project. Team members need direction before, during, and after meetings so they come to meetings prepared, achieve what the meeting was intended for, and leave knowing what comes next. Meetings are the crux of your collaborative efforts, so make them count.