Creating collaborative teams is one of the best approaches to build a successful business. According to research from Slack, “trusting colleagues to do good work is a top collaboration concern.” The research also found that a majority of surveyed employees agree that ease of communication makes for great collaboration. Although collaboration does not guarantee success (it can fail), without it, your organization is at a disadvantage.
To understand how to build collaboration, let’s first discuss the characteristics of an effective team and the differences between collaboration versus cooperation.
In cooperative teams, work is compartmentalized. Tasks are divided and assigned to team members to work on independently. Team members exchange knowledge and information as needed. The ownership of and authority over the work usually rests with one individual. They are working autonomously on a project with small, individual tasks.
Within collaborative teams, new knowledge is created together, work is synchronized, and team members are interdependent. Ownership and authority are shared. They create a synergy that is not easily achieved in cooperative mode alone.
Take a look at your teams through this lens to know which style your groups follow. In the end, you want groups in which employees feel treated equally and different opinions are respected. That’s the foundation for effective interdependence and a common vision — even deep trust.
How to Build Collaborative Teams
It’s not easy to know how to get started molding a static unit of co-workers into an effective, collaborative team. Here are three steps you can take to transform how your organization works:
1. Make collaboration a stated priority
Start by embracing team collaboration as a part of your company culture across the entire business, from top to bottom. Put it at the top of your management team’s priorities.
To that end, review the strengths and weaknesses of team members and assign roles according to what will best support the kind of interactive, highly interdependent environment you wish to bring about.
2. Don’t leave it to chance. Do your homework
Now the real work begins: putting in place the resources and training required to ensure your groups succeed as collaborators. Do not skimp here because this step can make or break your efforts. Take time for planning, deploy the funds and human resources needed, and then make it happen.
During this phase, monitor outcomes and communicate with team members. Clarify their roles and responsibilities, and set expectations accordingly. You will need to be just as responsive to what you learn from them as you expect them to be with their fellow team members.
3. Keep the momentum going
Provide continual support to build a collaborative work environment. Take the long view and create opportunities that hone and maintain the collaborative spirit. A key to that is a workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their views. That requires a strong culture of respect.
Prepare team-building activities and opportunities to bond and have some fun together. When conflicts crop up — and they will — be sure you have clear and fair protocols for resolving them. By meeting regularly and eliciting feedback, you can make sure all voices are heard and all stakeholders are aware of relevant issues.
Start Your Journey to Collaboration Today
There’s no question that the ability to collaborate is one of the key characteristics of an effective team. In the contest between collaboration vs. cooperation, there is a clear winner. Team cooperation alone leaves you at a competitive disadvantage, so do not delay implementing these simple steps to forge team collaboration at your organization.
By prioritizing and laying the groundwork for collaboration, and maintaining it through diligent effort, you can create new opportunities for innovation and productivity at your organization.