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Strategies for Improving Team Collaboration

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What tactics and strategies can you use to improve the effectiveness of your team collaborations and partnerships?

Establish trust

Well, effective team collaboration is solely based on trust and understanding. Without either of these, a collaboration is unlikely to get established or be successful.

So a key tactic you can use to improve the effectiveness of your collaborations is to continuously work to generate trust, understanding, and loyalty among your team. In fact, all stakeholders must work to generate these feelings, and everyone should be mindful of situations that can cause a breakdown in any of these areas.

Have regular meetings

A meeting, either face-to-face or via video or telephone, is one of the best ways to improve team collaboration. The meeting can be either informal or formal. It allows the project managers and leaders to brief the team on developments, identify the project roadmap and timelines, and talk about their expectations for success.

Meetings also provide the ideal opportunity to have crucial conversations about how the collaborative team is going to identify and respond to conflict and failure. Conflict and failure are inevitable parts of any collaboration process; they can occur whether the team is in the same room or in different time zones around the world. But while it is inevitable that they occur from time to time, the team still needs to learn from them. People need to understand how, where, and when the failure or conflict occurred, and take steps to minimize the chances of them happening again.

Project leaders and managers should ensure that adequate procedures are in place to deal with conflict and failure. However, an overly regimental process may do more harm than good.  Instead, ‘town halls’, open feedback discussions, or simply a coffee and a conversation with the affected parties can be very effective.

If a serious conflict arises, it is important to deal with the issue without delay. Teams sometimes use obscure code words or phrases to signify to all stakeholders in the room or across the collaborative network to temporarily ‘down tools’ and pause, as there is something of grave importance that needs to be addressed immediately. For example, phrases like ‘yellow taxi’ or ‘clear the decks’ could be used for this purpose. Obviously, for this to work, everyone needs to be made aware of the significance of the phrase from the start of the project.

It is also vitally important that solutions to failures, ‘hacks’, and newly discovered short-cuts in the collaborative process and technology systems are communicated frequently to all stakeholders. By sharing the knowledge in this way, everyone starts to work more effectively, which increases the chance of overall project success.

Send fewer emails

Another strategy you can use to enhance team collaboration is to send fewer emails. While email itself is an efficient medium, the human beings who create them frequently make mistakes. For example, people may forget to hit ‘reply all’ when replying to important emails, accidentally omit attachments, fail to check the spam folder for missing emails, or use very poor grammar, all of which can spell loss of productivity - and ultimately disaster - for any collaboration.

Investigate the many online collaboration tools on the market today. These can prove useful, as they offer open global access for all collaborators, allow real-time tracking of task assignments, and can be used to store the latest version of files and to archive material. At a local level, non-technical tools, such as flipcharts and whiteboards, are also effective, as people get to express and record their opinions in their own words.

Have a trial run

A final strategy is to have a trial run to measure how a newly established collaborating team is going to work together. Ideally, this would involve activities that test new roles and responsibilities, and identify barriers to communication, cultural differences, and, most importantly, the non-compatibility of certain participants. The most effective way of identifying these issues in the shortest possible time is for the collaborative team to eat together.

However, there is a twist: each stakeholder is assigned a role or a number of roles in the purchasing, preparation, cooking, serving, and clearing away of the meal. It is a most effective method of establishing team cohesiveness, and pinpointing people who have fun working and eating together.

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Kevin J Reid

CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com

  • A consummate and skillful international communications trainer, facilitator, and coach
  • Has over 15 years of learning development experience with individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • Has facilitated communications workshops and training across numerous sectors in Ireland, the UK, Europe, America, and Africa

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    Working With Others
    Kevin J Reid
    Skills Expert

    Organizations are more likely to perform well when their employees work together effectively. To be successful in today’s workplace, it’s important to develop good interpersonal relationships with your colleagues, and to be able to collaborate with them successfully when the need arises. It’s also important to be able to communicate well with your colleagues, so you can get your message across and ensure it is understood.

    In this module, you will learn about the personal skills you should cultivate in order to collaborate successfully, such as the ability to listen actively and to ‘lead beyond your authority’. You will also discover strategies you can use to improve team collaboration, such as holding regular meetings and sending fewer emails.

    You will learn why good communication matters – and how you are communicating even when you are silent, before you utter a single word. You will also be introduced to strategies you can use to communicate effectively and improve your day-to-day interactions with others, including observing body language, asking short but impactful questions, and using pauses for effect.