The Importance of Teamwork and Collaboration

group-laptopThe cooperation between people in the process of accomplishing a task is what gets work done effectively. When team collaboration becomes the foundation of any project, it’s truly amazing to see how the results are impacted. Any workplace or online workspace that encourages a collaborative spirit (whether teammates are remote or in the same location) makes for an environment that facilitates success.

Working together to apply collaboration skills and focus on teamwork training enables all members of the department, team or crew to work together powerfully. By removing the silos, the output of work becomes multi-faceted. Distributing the workload amongst resources or establishing how the flow of work will unfold as a collective enables improved teamwork to make things run more smoothly.

Here’s why teamwork and collaboration make a positive and professional impact.

Team Collaboration Is All About Teamwork

At the heart of team collaboration and team effectiveness lies successful communication. In order to accomplish anything, the sending and receiving of messages must be thoughtfully crafted and executed.

When we’re spending hours a day working on a project with teammates brainstorming, hashing out details, and pulling down abstract ideas into reality, the only way to do so is by establishing teamwork processes that ensure everyone is seen, heard, and understood. Otherwise, how else will you get from point a to point b?

Here are some key performance indicators of a team built for success:

How People Behave and Interact With Others

These skills are brought in by each individual on the team. Interpersonal skills stand as a “contribution” to the collective. Even if a teammate exudes shyness or remains discreet, they can still add to the group dynamic in other ways. Perhaps this person is lowkey, but as a result, is laser-focused and can produce highly detailed technical work. On the other hand, someone who is more outgoing and charming might be better suited to facilitate group events or be a director.

Conversely, lacking interpersonal skills also plays a huge role in group dynamics. When a colleague comes across as demeaning or domineering, this energy will affect others on the team. It’s possible that a team member will feel less likely to share or open up when they feel judged or condescended to. This could create friction and not be considered as a form of “healthy collaboration.”

How Everyone Communicates With Each Other

office-computerA collaborative environment thrives when the approach to communication is wide open, meaning every employee is given a chance to speak. No one should feel awkward or uncomfortable about seeking advice, asking for help, or sharing an educated opinion. When a solution is needed, questions should be asked and answered to the best of the team or collaborative leader’s ability. Together, a solution can be reached.

Increased collaboration begins to take form when managers seek to improve teamwork starting with themselves. They can create a safe and secure “nest” that promotes collaborative work when they set the tone for everyone to follow. For example, a manager, superior or leader can open the conversation when they share their own journey or private struggle. By asking the team for advice and showing their own vulnerability, everyone is invited to go a little deeper and share their point of view.

It can be as courageous as sharing a grave mistake made on the job that turns into a teachable moment or as simple as sharing a photo that was taken on the weekend.

Furthermore, open communication becomes even more enhanced when the corporate culture is a priority. Cultivate a sense of camaraderie through virtual hangouts, team lunches, celebratory happy hours, a break room with games, etc.

How Feedback Is Given And Received

Without feedback, there is no growth. Arguably one of the most critical aspects of collaboration, thoughtful feedback is an indication of how comfortable and caring teammates are with each other.

There are times when we all need a cheerleader. “Great idea! Explore it further!” Other times, we need to be a little more critical. “Excellent start, but have you considered how it will unfold if X affects Y and Y is dependant on Z?”

When both the sender and receiver of feedback understand the role of constructive criticism that builds rather than tears down, successful collaboration is imminent. Seeing the value of a teammate’s perspective and support rather than taking things personally works to create a strong and unshakable feedback loop.

How Leadership Is Revealed

Strong leadership provides a container for the team to function at full speed. Proper management gives individuals boundaries to work within and creates a structure that promotes collaboration and ownership. People want to produce good work and be proud of it. With guidance, minimal micromanagement, and trust, a team leader will know who can do what, what each individual’s strengths and weaknesses are, and be able to delegate their crew to get them to hone in on their skills to pull off a project.

How Many Individuals Take Ownership

When something goes wrong (and one day, it will), in order to maintain a constant feeling of collaboration, it’s important to instill the need for personal accountability. Sure it might seem as though the team as a whole would take the hit, however, when individuals step in to address the problem personally, it absolves others from feeling responsible. True team players take a little less credit and little more ownership. Accountability is the glue that keeps things moving, plus it allows people to take pride in their work by motivating people to do their best.

Avoid errors by relying on your team to collaborate and offer support:

  • Bounce ideas off each other in the beginning phases of a project
  • Discuss and expand on concepts amongst each other to see if they hold up (sense check)
  • Run final drafts past another set of eyes before sending it off
  • Check and compare facts, briefs, quotes, emails and anything else that has small details
  • Keep a paper trail or record meetings so you can pinpoint where things went downhill or improved

What Are The Pillars of Great Teamwork and Collaboration?

The potential for effective teamwork is exponentially increased when everyone pools their time, skills, resources, and expertise – results are maximized when people work in numbers.

But when the dynamic is full of distrust, intolerance, poor communication and no end goal in sight, it’s these conditions that make for a less than ideal work environment:

  1. Not having a goal or not sticking to a commitment
    If there is no skin in the game, then no one will see the task through to the end. Apathy won’t get anything done and is the enemy of good collaboration.
  2. Not feeling like part of the team
    When the team becomes too individualized and can’t function together, the focus is lessened and there is no emotional attachment to the success of the goal. Zero ownership means less pride in results.
  3. No trust or safe space
    Acting in your own interest rather than the group’s is usually a symptom of not feeling like anyone can be trusted. Camaraderie plays a big role in tightening the bond between teammates and works to build trust.
  4. No defined role
    Stepping on toes and crossing over into a teammate’s territory happens more frequently when roles aren’t defined. Power struggles become the norm when assignments and jobs aren’t properly delegated and people don’t know what they’re doing.
  5. Zero cohesiveness
    Organization and hierarchy play a big role in how work is disseminated. Feeling a sense of community, and knowing right off the bat who is responsible for what works to create synergy and flow.
  6. Lack of resources
    When resources aren’t abundant, it affects everyone. Stress levels soar when employees don’t have the tools they need to do their job – for example:
  7. Little management support
    When management isn’t around to offer support, feedback or go to bat for their team, motivation can take a downturn. Plus, people will feel like their work has no value, so what’s the point?
  8. Unenthused team members
    No direction means no pathway which leads to no focus and lots of boredom. Structure and communication is key to painting a picture for how a project is to take form.
  9. Mismanaged expectations
    When expectations are clear (roles, deadlines, output, momentum, etc), it’s easy to align to what’s expected. If they aren’t clear, disappointment and problems like being “off-brief” are just around the corner.

What makes for a great team?

lady-laptopIt’s simple – good communication! Here’s how to really push it and drive it home:

  1. Use Your Ears And Your Mouth
    Instead of one person taking over the flow of conversation, everyone is granted the proverbial “conch.” Let each individual speak to be heard, while others reply to understand instead of just replying. This applies to online meetings using video conferencing and meetings in real life. When we use both our ears and mouth in tandem, instead of just one or the other, paired with patience and the desire to learn and understand, we create a dynamic environment that fosters proper communication. Try establishing a few minutes for each person to speak so it doesn’t take up too much time, but also allow for each individual to speak multiple times.
  2. Get Facetime
    Seeing the faces of colleagues in the office or while engaged in an online meeting with team members around the world makes collaboration feel more real. When you get to connect with faces and make eye contact, it feels like you’re working with a person instead of the idea of one. A collaboration tool like video conferencing that utilizes audio and video puts you in front of your team digitally, regardless of geographic location.
  3. Maintain Direct Dialogue
    Side conversations directly held with colleagues that are off brief or discussed outside of the team can sometimes be seen as a waste of time. In reality, they aren’t. These types of discussions can lead to some out of the box thinking that can be applied to the project down the road or lead to a new idea or project now. Talking to people outside of your department shines a completely different light and offers a new perspective. It’s beneficial to collaborate with people and ideas outside of your immediate circle.
  4. Encourage Outside Inspiration
    Bringing relevant information from the outside into the group dynamics will add shape and dimension to the task at hand. Interactions that are carried out with different people, industries, and companies could lead to interesting results by way of diversification. After all, true collaboration and creativity comes to life when we connect the dots between different elements and factors.
  5. Make Communication #1
    Tapping into someone’s value in a collaborative team means creating a structure that gives them the tools to be able to communicate their ideas, points of view, and work effectively. To get the best out of everyone, push for superior communication that brings their work to life.

Opting for video conferences instead of calls; presenting presentations that “show instead of tell”using screen sharing; and encouraging everyone in the meeting to say something are all small ways of tightening how communication is approached and directed.

Why Collaboration Is Important

Collaboration is important because it is a blending of everyone’s collective experiences. And when expressed using technology that empowers communication, the result is usually very rewarding.

Two-way communication software such as conference calling and video conferencing opens up new pathways for thoughts, interactions and ideas to interplay with each other to create meaningful connections and work.

Collaboration gives way to problem-solving, provides a container for innovation to incubate, shows a more holistic view of the bigger picture, spikes skill-sharing, and aligns remote teams.

Commitment to Success

At the end of the day, a key indicator of solid collaboration is that the end goal shared by everyone is their commitment to getting any project or task off the ground. The quality of work, the passion behind the project, the process of making an abstract idea concrete – these should be the motivating factors that lead to success.

When everyone on the collaboration team is headed in the same direction, the end result becomes clear – especially when the team has seen the project grow from start to finish.

Let FreeConference be the multi-faceted video conferencing collaborative tool for your team to connect and join forces. Beyond video conferencing and conference calling, teams get to experience ultimate collaboration using screen sharing, online whiteboard, document sharing, and more while engaged in conferences in real-time. Enjoy heightened teamwork that makes the dream work!