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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 December 1, 2020

Productivity Can Be Improved By These 10 Actionable Steps

Productivity Can Be Improved By These 10 Actionable Steps

If there is any challenge that is common to everyone apart from staying happy, it’s improving personal productivity.

Nothing stimulates joy like getting things done and doing the right things. You become happier when you are focused and productive.

So what is productivity and how do we improve it?

What is Personal Productivity?

Personal productivity means different things to different individuals. Some might define personal productivity as accomplishing your milestones without failing, or setting goals and completing them.

So what, then, is personal productivity?

Personal productivity can be thought of as completing a set of tasks that moves you forward in the direction of your life purpose without causing you to sacrifice other life aspects.

Personal productivity can be improved by identifying your key objectives and what actionable steps you need to take to fulfill them.

In all of this, it’s important to remember that personal productivity is different than workplace productivity. Here’s why.

Personal Productivity Vs. Workplace Productivity

Workplace productivity deals with your level of efficiency in accomplishing corporate goals and providing goods or top-notch solutions for customers. For instance, productivity in the workplace could incorporate the speed at which you respond to a query as a customer service assistant or design a website for a web development agency.

The 4 Components of Productivity

Penny Zenker, a notable Productivity Coach, propounded four essential components of productivity: purpose, language, focus, and physiology. Let’s break these down.

Purpose

According to Penny,

“When you are on a course or purpose that goes beyond what’s in it for you or what you need to do, you gain a higher sense of being more productive and a feeling that you are working on something significant.”[1]

One way to find your sense of purpose is by answering your “Whys.”

Language

Language is another crucial component. It’s how you express yourself in describing the world around you.

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Any time you utilize negative words during self-talk, you are conditioning yourself to produce negative situations.

Productivity can be improved by paying attention to the language you use. That way, you can change your words consciously and then talk yourself into becoming more productive.

Therefore, try to change your language to improve your output!

Focus

You only have 24 hours each day. How do you guide your energy within this limited time-frame? The answer lies in being focused.

Focus is the art of directing your energy towards your objectives. It is eliminating every form of distraction and achieving your set goals.

Physiology

You need a great body to be productive. That’s why your physiology influences your level of productivity.

For instance, what you eat affects what you can do. If you continuously neglect the habit of eating healthy, you will continually undermine your performance and efficiency.

So what’s the way forward?

Take good care of your body!

Productivity can be improved by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and spending time with nature.

How to Evaluate Productivity

Evaluating your productivity is an important step as it helps you keep track of what you’re doing right and wrong on your journey to completing your goals. Try these five proven steps to keep you on track.

1. Review Your Completed To-Do Lists

One of the strategic means of assessing your productivity is by examining your completed to-do lists. You can accurately look at your activities in the past two to three weeks. Find out what you have accomplished. Estimate how many tasks, how long each task took you, and find the ones you failed to complete.

Were you distracted? Busy? Or lacking sufficient time? The essence of this assessment is to enable you find a solution that can assist you in completing your objectives on time.

2. Track Your Time

Tracking your time is highly crucial to determining your productivity level. You only have 24 hours, just like any other person. How you spend each second is what differentiates you from the rest of the world.

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While some are experts at managing their time productively, others retire at night without any significant thing they have accomplished all day.

You just can’t live your life like that.

Track your time to derive an accurate evaluation of your accomplishments and performance in your workplace.

3. Practice Accountability

While you can collaborate with an accountability partner to monitor your progress, Jones Loflin, a keynote speaker and a prolific author, also recommends that you ask yourself some reflective questions daily[2]:

  • Was I productive today or reactive?
  • Have I accomplished any of my short-term goals?
  • What took my time today?
  • Who is excited that I was part of their day?
  • What did I accomplish today that will relieve me of stress tomorrow?
  • What did I fail to do that can make my tomorrow worse off?

While you don’t have to ask all these questions each day, you can ask them at intervals throughout the week.

You can also practice journaling or blog about your experience.

4. Allocate a Time-frame for Your Goals

Establishing a timeline is one of the requirements for creating SMART goals. You can determine if you have accomplished your objectives when you have a time period as a point of reference. You provide yourself a timeline to implement your tasks when you assign deadlines for all your milestones.

That way, you can detect when you are not meeting your deadlines and quickly get back on track.

5. Complete a Weekly Review

The best time to audit your accomplishment is the weekend and not the end of the year. Create time each week to evaluate your objectives and track your outcomes. Find out which stage you are in, and determine how you can tweak your schedules and routines to better achieve your aims.

How to Improve Productivity

Tracking productivity is important, but it’s all for naught if you’re unable to improve your productivity in the face of difficulties. Productivity can be improved by incorporating these simple things into your life.

1. Exercise

Do this first thing when you wake up. According to research, exercise, especially team exercise, can enhance your mood for up to 12 hours after a workout.[3]

Therefore, if you care to have a productive day, invest your first 20 minutes in physical exercises.

Nothing energizes you like physical exercises, and productivity can be improved by a boost in your energy level.

2. Prioritize the Most Critical Tasks

Everyone has specific activities that count the most. An important step is to identify three things that add value to your life’s purpose.

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What three things produce the most income?

What three things generate the highest impact?

Delete the “additional stuff” as much as you can. This action will enable you to enjoy the importance of focusing on your most important activities.

3. Allocate Less Time for Major Projects

Time is like a new mansion. You fill a new house with furniture and fittings, just as you load each block of your time with activities.

So here’s a practical approach you can apply.

Reduce the amount of time you assign for a critical task.

That will help you to focus and stay productive. It will also optimize your energy level and help you get things done faster.

4. Chunk Your House Chores

Now that you are working from home, housekeeping activities can become your greatest distractions.

You don’t have to worry about that.

Instead of performing those tasks at any time of the day, sort them out in an organized block. Then, schedule the blocks and take them out when you are tired or need a mental break.

5. Learn to Say No

That does not mean you are not polite. It’s important to protect your time by saying no as often as you say yes.

Time is a great asset; you cannot waste it trying to please everyone.

6. Schedule Free Time

Don’t let your free time just happen. It should not also be a product of “if you have a chance.”

Plan it!

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Set out fun things to do during those free periods. It could be watching a new movie or playing an exciting game. Let it be something that you love so you can anticipate it.

Productivity can be improved by an increased level of happiness, which we can improve during those crucial moments of free time.

7. Take a Productivity Nap

A quick nap has the ability to boost your creativity, retention, and focus.[4]

Midday siestas can supercharge your productivity, so don’t overwork yourself; take a nap!

8. Use Your Mind to Think, Not to Recollect

Never clutter your mind with mental lists of things you need to remember.

Instead, write those things down and focus your mind on how to do them better. Avoid wasting your mental energy on remembering important ideas, and let papers take care of that.

9. Turn off Notifications

Turn off email dings, phone buzzes, and pop-ups. Every notification distracts you from the most important task, so eliminating them is an important step if you want to focus your energy.

Go notification-free, and once or twice each out, check for a few minutes if you’ve missed an urgent call or a message.

Most of the time, you will discover you haven’t missed anything and that the time you gained was better spent being productive.

10. Create Room for Reflection

Block about 20 to 30 minutes of your working time for reflection.

Close the door and reflect. You can also take a walk during this period. Exercising this way can aid your thinking as it encourages focused energy and relaxation.[5]

Bonus Point: Use the 2-Minute Rule

In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen recommends:

“When an activity requires less than two minutes, do not schedule it, do not set it aside for a later time, do not set a reminder — just do them instantly.”

Bottom Line

Productivity can be improved by the ten actionable steps mentioned above. Don’t forget to do the most important things first, allocate limited time for them, and focus like a laser to achieve your milestones.

Don’t forget the two-minute rule! If you can get it done quickly, get it done now.

More Productivity Tips

Featured photo credit: Carl Heyerdahl via unsplash.com

Reference

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