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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 May 7, 2021

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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Relocate your alarm clock.

Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

Scrap the snooze.

The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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Change up your buzzer

If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

Make a puzzle

If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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Get into a routine

Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

Have a reason

Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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