Collaboration is a powerful business tool. It positively impacts performance in countless ways, including productivity, endurance, engagement, and problem-solving.
Collaboration is applicable in every area of business, too. Individual coworkers can work together on a project. Teams cooperate to succeed. Departments must maintain communication and interactions. Even companies in adjacent markets collaborate with each other at times.
It may be a powerful tool, but collaboration doesn’t come easy. Business collaboration requires that classic trio of time, effort, and resources. It is also difficult to maintain over the long haul without a serious commitment to do so.
Here are a few essential tips and reminders to help you maintain crisp, effective collaboration across every area of your company.
1. Establish Clear Lines of Communication
Communication and collaboration go hand in hand. The former consists of sharing information both by giving and receiving. TeamBuilding.com defines the latter as “working with other individuals on a project, task, or idea,” adding that the goal is to pool skillsets and ideas to achieve beneficial results. It’s hard to do this without sharing information throughout the process.
That’s why ground zero for healthy collaboration has to start with good communication. This consists of two key elements:
- Effectiveness: Collaborators must effectively share information. You can accomplish this by creating clear standards and expectations for communication in each situation.
- Sustainability: Communication isn’t a one-time event. You must establish well-defined lines of connectivity. These allow for the consistent and effective transfer of information throughout the collaborative process.
Communication is an obvious collaborative necessity. So much so, in fact, that it’s tempting to leave it off of a list like this and jump straight to more nuanced solutions. However, effective and sustainable communication is so fundamental to healthy collaboration that it has to be the starting point every single time.
2. Assign Specific Collaboration Roles
We’ve all heard of SMART goals. Applying a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely filter to your goals brings a unique level of specificity that makes any goal more attainable. If you want your collabs to succeed, you need to apply a similar level of detail to your cooperative work efforts — starting with assigning specific roles within a collaborative infrastructure.
When a group of individuals collaborates together, it’s important to establish an authority structure from the get-go. That way, when questions arise, you can assign them to someone who can answer them without hesitation.
For instance, podcasting recording platform SquadCast enables the use of multiple roles, like “Show Manager,” “Talent,” and “Backstage,” that users can assign to different people working on a show. This provides a blueprint for who is responsible for what throughout the complex content creation process. Whether you’re making a podcast, building a sales team, or doing your EOY taxes, make sure everyone knows their roles.
3. Empower Collaborative Participants
Thus far, we’ve covered two critical components of collaboration: communication and authority. And effectively transferring information and defining collaborative roles are both essential elements. However, taken on their own, they can give a false expectation of how involved leadership should be in the collaborative process.
In contrast, Slack’s communication and collaboration experts point out that you must give collaborators the autonomy they need to be effective and productive. This begins with both horizontal and vertical lines of trust.
Horizontally, colleagues working on a project together must trust one another to come through on their tasks and responsibilities. Vertically, leaders must empower their teams to be effective …and then let them do so. If trust is lacking, lean on communication to discover and address the issue.
It’s also worth pointing out that empowerment doesn’t equate to abandonment. You still want to establish a healthy support structure for your team members to utilize in the event that they need help as they work on their individual parts of a group project.
Capitalizing on the Simple Efficacy of Collaboration
Collaboration is a professional consideration that is as old as civilization itself. The ancient Egyptians collaborated to build pyramids. The ancient Romans collectively maintained immaculate highways that spanned Europe for centuries.
In the 21st century, collaboration looks quite a bit different, but at its roots, it functions the same. Communication remains a central element of a healthy, functioning workplace. A group of collaborators must understand their roles if they’re going to work together effectively. Leadership should empower and support participants to execute their responsibilities well on every level and in all situations.
If you can maintain these common tenets of collaboration within your organization, you can capitalize on one of the simplest and most effective ways in the history of mankind to boost workplace productivity. So step back, re-evaluate, and look for the areas where you can improve collaboration between individuals, teams, departments, and even other organizations. The results will speak for themselves.