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Published on August 20, 2020

5 Collaboration Skills to Bring Your Teams Together

5 Collaboration Skills to Bring Your Teams Together

Collaboration skills are nothing new. In fact, humans have been collaborating to achieve goals since human history began. The great architectural wonders of the world, advances in medicine and technology, mesmerizing special effects that jump off the movie screen—these are all the result of collaboration.

Most work environments require a certain level of collaboration among team members. Even in companies where employees work mostly on their own, there’s likely some collaboration to connect the business with other businesses and customers.

It’s every manager’s dream to have a business where employees and various teams within the company are united in spirit and can seamlessly work together. However, fostering a harmonious collaborative union is probably going to require some effort.

What Does Successful Collaboration Look Like?

Good collaboration is when team members are all united in accomplishing the same goal. The teams may have very different duties and responsibilities, but they work well both as a unit and with the other departments or teams within the business.

The result of good collaboration, of course, is a business that flourishes and reaches new milestones. Startups and SMBs need collaborative teammates if they are to survive the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Effective collaboration among the teams and employees of businesses requires both strong communication and interpersonal skills—whether working under the same roof or virtually. There’s a balanced flow of sharing ideas and feedback and teams hold themselves and others accountable for getting the job done in a unified fashion. Simple enough, right?

5 Key Collaboration Skills

Here are five key collaboration skills to bring teams together and knock those big goals out of the park.

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1. Active Listening

Let’s go ahead and put a gold star beside this one because, without strong active listening skills from all teams, the chances of good collaboration are slim. Clear and thoughtful communication requires self-awareness because employees need to understand their preferences and still strive to hear the concerns of others.

Strong active listeners are excellent communicators, both verbally and with written communication. According to a 2017 corporate recruiters report, listening skills were one of t he most highly sought after skills for job candidates and second only to oral communication skills.[1] Knowing how to clearly convey ideas is essential for team collaboration, but so is listening to the ideas and feedback of others.

So how can team members improve their active listening skills for better collaboration? They just need to do 3 simple things:

  • Be present.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Ask follow-up questions.

2. Organization

Go ahead and look for an unorganized team that collaborates well together and gets things accomplished on schedule. They’re like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot—you won’t find one because they don’t exist.

While in an ideal world, everyone on your team would be a perfectly organized individual, that’s not always the case. There are steps to learn to be more organized, but that’s not our specific focus here, and hopefully, you’re already hiring organized folks.

No, what we’re talking about here pertains more to team organization and building a cohesive unit that collaborates well together. And for that, we need to look at delegation or in layman’s terms, making sure everyone is on the same page and knows their role. Automation apps may help team members stay organized and focus on important tasks.

It’s up to whoever is leading the organization to ensure that each team leader has assigned the people on their team duties and responsibilities they’re best suited for. If one person isn’t sure of their role, it’s only going to slow progress and cause problems down the line.

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Managers and team leaders should strive for good communication with their teams and other departments to ensure that organization doesn’t deteriorate.

A few benefits of an organized team:

  • Better productivity
  • Higher employee morale
  • Lower employee turnover

3. Engagement

Successful collaboration is going to be the result of team members who are engaged with each other and the work they’re doing. If teams aren’t in at least somewhat regular communication with each other, then it’s more likely to result in people feeling disconnected from any setbacks and gains in the work.

Creating strong engagement and thus, better collaboration skills that unite teams should include regular feedback and discussion. This allows employees to voice their opinions, share ideas, and even explore potentially taking on new job duties.

For example, Google reportedly allows employees to dedicate 20 percent of their time towards pursuing new projects or further education.[2] While this might t seem counterproductive at first, it results in employees that are more focused and engaged with their everyday work.

Employees who feel valued and heard are more engaged with their job and are going to overall be more enthused when it comes to collaboration.

4. Transparency

When it comes down to building collaboration among teams in the workplace, transparency goes a long way. Without it, people feel that they’re working “for” rather than “with” their managers—and that’s not always a good thing.

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Let the people on your team know about where the company is regarding any projects, why certain aspects are important, and any challenges that may come up along the way. This allows each team member to take the right steps in their respective duties to avoid any complications and do the best job possible.

While providing transparency at the beginning of a project is important, leaders should also regularly keep lines of communication open and not avoid challenging topics. Be honest if you don’t have the answers to difficult questions.

This sort of transparency is what fosters trust in teams and results in greater success. Studies have shown that companies that place an emphasis on transparency and fostering trust tend to be more profitable.[3]

5. Adaptability

People are not always going to agree with the workplace choices of other team members, their boss, or other departments. That said, being open-minded and learning to adapt and compromise will increase the chances of successful team collaboration by huge leaps and bounds.

It’s just a fact that people have different ambitions and ideas for how a job should be done and what aspects of it deserve the highest priority.

For example, the creative department likely isn’t going to always be on the same page as the accounting department. This is where adaptability and compromise come into play.

Obstacles will arise and not everyone will agree on the same solution, but to move forward, some compromise is probably necessary. Oftentimes, this is going to require a bit of conflict resolution from team leaders and again—this is where those active listening skills are so important.

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Teams that know how to compromise and adapt will be that much stronger because they’re showing consideration for others and putting the long-term goal ahead of their egos.

How Can Leaders Foster These Skills in Team Members?

Now that we’ve outlined the essential skills for building strong team collaboration, it’s time to look at how to go about doing it. Unfortunately, simply sending out a memo that reads “Hey everyone, please collaborate better” won’t cut it.

A surefire way to set the tone for team collaboration is to create opportunities for team members to get to know one another. It doesn’t take a sociology expert to realize that people tend to collaborate better when they know who they’re working with. A few ideas for this could be something as simple as gathering everyone around for introductions or something like company happy hour or a more structured event such as a company retreat.

It’s vital that teams regularly come together—either in-person or via Skype or Zoom—to share updates and progress. This gives everyone a chance to provide and hear feedback and ensure that everyone is engaged and on the same page.

Perhaps the best way that managers and team leaders can foster strong collaboration skills is to lead by example. A leader that is an active listener, organized, adapts well to challenge, and strives for a healthy level of transparency with their employees, is going to have a team that is much more capable of successful collaboration.

More Tips to Enhance Your Collaboration Skills

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

Reference

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Jeremy Diamond

Jeremy Diamond is a lawyer and entrepreneur. He is the Senior Partner of Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, a national law firm based in Canada

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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