You received an e-mail with an attachment. It says that you need to provide comments on the document and return it to the sender. You’re up to your neck with other work, but this is something that requires your attention, too. You spent two or three hours working on it. You send it back to the sender. A day later, someone talks to you, sheepishly apologizing. You didn’t receive the latest version of the document. You now need to redo your work on the newest version.
Or what about a conversation that goes: “I thought you were going to discuss salary grade and promotions at the meeting?” says one. “No, I’m discussing our employee benefits providers and our wellness program. “It’s right here in the minutes,” says another.
This type of nightmare goes on and on, preventing a more efficient way of working. Collaboration is missing. Project delays happen, and the entire business is affected. How do you get your teams to collaborate better? Can technology help?
A company or organization is composed of several moving parts, all trying to achieve a common goal—to provide the best product or service to its clients or customers. A key component of collaboration is communication, but communication needs to be meaningful. Messages shouldn’t be repetitive or recycled. Instead, it should add value to the conversation.
For collaboration to happen, individualistic approaches must shift to a collaborative way of working. You need to turn individuals into stakeholders.
Also, the modern organizational working environment is not limited to a one-office setting. Some employees are more productive when telecommuting. Office branches are located halfway around the world in a different time zone. Despite these scenarios, organizations stay connected through technology and remote teams to access information, manage projects, and deal with customers.
Tips on Collaboration
If your company is still young but is coming of age that requires a better and more effective way of working, considering the following steps toward a path to collaboration:
- Do an inventory. Clarity must be established. The only way to do it is to do a list of each responsibility, and that of the team. Find out about overlaps and create a matrix that plots each team’s responsibility base on a specific activity or project. For a sales activity, for example, what do sales executives vs. the technical support teams do?
- Understand the bigger picture. Each team is essential to finish a project. The project is critical to the company. Team members must understand that success in their tasks is tied to the success of the entire project, and thus the success of the organization.
- It’s a must. Collaboration is not a one-time deal. Yes, sometimes, you work faster and better alone. But this attitude is precisely the one that breeds chaos to an organization and renders project execution inefficient. Make people know that collaboration is a must. Implement tools or protocols that remind them about this. A regular 15-minute meeting every Monday or an email update will help.
- Online collaboration tools. Asana, Slack, or Basecamp are some of the popular online collaboration platforms on the market today. Remember that wrong version of the file you received in the email? These collaboration platforms can help prevent that from happening. Google Docs is also an option, and it’s free. Find something that suits the need of your company.
Collaboration is all about creating a positive, engaged, and creative group dynamic. Establish an environment where everyone can get to know each other. It builds trust and pathways to better collaboration.