10 Smart Ideas to Really Improve Employee Collaboration

Have you heard of workplace collaboration and that it can improve team communication and performance? There is no doubt that collaboration between employees is something that you can use to your advantage. This page will define employee collaboration and its benefits, along with a list of employee collaboration ideas.

Employee Collaboration Ideas

What is Employee Collaboration and its Benefits?

Employee collaboration is a work style where people work together to achieve common goals on behalf of their company. There are two ways collaboration between employees can be set up:

  • Synchronous
  • Asynchronous

Under the synchronous method, everyone on the team works together on a real-time basis. They may use communication and collaboration tools like instant messaging, online meetings or video conferencing to stay in touch throughout the workday.

With an asynchronous work style, interactions between members of the team can be time-shifted to accommodate people on different shifts or who live in different time zones. Documents can be shared to the cloud and accessed by users at any time.

 

Successful collaboration in the workplace provides a business with several benefits, including the following:

Team Members Develop Skills

Each employee brings their strengths and specific skills to the table. Team collaboration ideas give all team members the chance to learn from each other as they pool their strengths and talents and work toward a common goal.

Higher Efficiency for Remote Teams

Remote working is no longer an anomaly. As this model becomes more common, open collaboration works very well when teams are separated by geography. This style helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and all team members are active participants.

Employees Develop a Big-Picture Outlook

As employees work together, they begin to see connections between different departments in the company. They understand that their work matters to the projects they are working on and to the company itself, and that good collaboration with team members benefits everyone.

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Collaboration Ideas to Consider

Are you looking for practical ways to improve employee collaboration? Many companies are interested in finding out how they can use this strategy to their advantage. Consider the following tips to encourage collaboration in your digital workplace.

1. Create a supportive work environment

For successful team collaboration, it is necessary for the team members to feel safe. No one wants to be afraid to share their ideas only to have the people they work with ridicule them. The work environment should be a supportive one where everyone on the team feels that their contributions are appreciated. It takes time and effort to build trust in the workplace.

The benefits are worth the effort since the payoff is a team that develops empathy for its members and communicates openly with each other. The team members will gain a better understanding of where each other’s strengths lie and what they need to do their best work. They will also be better prepared to step in to help their fellow team members as needed.

2. Communicate expectations clearly

If your goal is to create a collaborative employee team, then you need to let your employees know exactly what you expect from them. Your team members may not have worked in this type of work environment before. Some of them may hear the word “collaborate” and immediately think of working on a group project in school: if they were the person who always seemed to get stuck with doing most of the work, then this work style may not immediately be appealing to them.

 

Let your employees share any thoughts they have about working collaboratively, whether they are positive or negative.

 

Let your employees share any thoughts they have about working collaboratively, whether they are positive or negative. The positive thoughts can be supported and any concerns can be addressed openly from the outset and fosters collaboration improvement among the entire team. This way of dealing with issues sets the tone for the team’s work style.

3. Use an online platform to communicate with team members and increase collaboration

Your team may be located in a brick and mortar office, but spread out over more than one floor. Some team members may be working from home (either full or part-time). You may be working with a fully remote team. Modern technology makes staying in touch with your team easy and convenient when you use an online collaboration platform to:

  • Send and receive messages
  • Ask questions
  • Share documents
  • Find information

The technology allows remote workers to post questions and comments at a convenient time for them. Members of the team can respond when they come online. Users can direct their communication to a specific person if they wish; all users can share ideas with the group to help the team reach its goals.

 

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4. Work with your employees’ strengths

Many people discount their strengths and are all-too-familiar with their weaknesses. To turn that view upside down and promote successful collaboration, have your team members take a personality test, and then share the results with the rest of the team (the Myers-Briggs is an example of a personality test available online). The results of the test give each person insights about themselves and allow their team members to get to know them and their strengths.

For example, if a personality test reveals that someone on your team is very detail-oriented, likes order, and works best with small groups, you wouldn’t want to put them on an assignment where they are expected to do a lot of “big picture” thinking and work with a large, disorganized group of people. It wouldn’t be the best use of this team member’s strengths.

5. Encourage team members to brainstorm

An organization can’t grow if it continues to do the same things, in the same way. Set aside time for your team members to question the way things are done without being judged. Hold brainstorming sessions where team members can share ideas. Let them know that they can shut off the internal editor that tells them their idea can’t be done.

Instead, encourage your team to share their ideas anyway. Let them know that challenges and obstacles can be overcome.
Do ask your team what they think and for new ideas regularly. The more often you ask them for their ideas, the less intimidating it will be for them to speak up and share their thoughts. Not everyone is ready with ideas on the spot so give some options for idea sharing, such as:

  • Posting the idea on the group’s online platform
  • Sending ideas to the group by email
  • Read the idea to the group at the next meeting (in office or virtual)

 

Brainstorming between employees

6. Invest in automation for your business

If your employees were spending most of their time at work dealing with administrative tasks instead of more interesting assignments, it would be very difficult for them to stay motivated. Employees who don’t feel as though they are making a difference at work are much less likely to want to contribute much to a team.

Instead, invest in software and tools that automate recurring tasks whenever possible. Taking this step frees up your employees’ valuable time so they can focus on more interesting tasks that matter to them and the company. To make the upgrade in technology successful, be sure that your managers are using it as well. Get your managers excited about the benefits of the software (which will lead to better collaboration) and your employees will follow suit.

7. Create overlap zones for unplanned employee interactions and opportunities for group collaboration ideas

Employees should not necessarily feel as though they should stay at their desks for their entire workday to be productive. Team members can exchange ideas during unplanned interactions while getting coffee, at lunch, or in a boardroom waiting for a meeting to start.

It is possible to become hyper-focused on a problem and get too stressed to see solutions. At a time like that, stepping away and taking a break can be very helpful. Find someone from another team or a different department to talk to. Ask them about what they have been working on and share a few details about what has got you stymied. It’s possible that in describing the dilemma to someone else, the answer will become clear.

Explore More: 8 Useful Ways to Enhance Teamwork in the Workplace

8. Encourage team members to socialize outside of work

Time seems to be in very short supply for everyone these days and asking your team members to add something else to their schedule may seem as though it will not go over well. However, when team members can spend time together away from work, they see each other as human, not just their job title.

Some companies organize team building activities or an outing for employees to enjoy. It helps to “break the ice” when people come out and wonder what they are going to talk about other than work! This is a good way to build relationships, bring people together in a low-key manner and allow them to get to know each other without feeling as though they are attending a corporate event.

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9. Treat mistakes as an opportunity to learn

Inevitably, there will be some mistakes along the way for your team. Depending on the way they are handled, they can become big roadblocks for your team. No one ever responds well if they are called out and criticized harshly for making a mistake or failing to reach a goal. That does not mean you should let mistakes or missing a goal slide as being no big deal. Instead, use these situations as an opportunity to learn what didn’t work this time and to make better plans going forward.

  • Avoid assigning blame to anyone. Instead, ask questions similar to the following:
  • Is there something the team did (or did not do) that caused the mistake to occur?
  • How can we regroup and move forward to reach our goal next time? Be specific.
  • What can I do to help the team reach the goal next time?

Generally, when a failure occurs, it is not due to one mistake. There are a series of events that occur and the failure is the result. Spending time trying to assign blame takes away from learning how to avoid the same pitfalls next time.

10. Lead your team by example

If you are the leader of a collaborative team, don’t fall into the trap of “Do as I say, not as I do” when interacting with your team members. It is important for you to be cooperative with others, in the workplace as well as outside of the office.

Set aside some time regularly to spend individually with each team member. These one-on-one dialogues are an opportunity for each of you to get to know the other better. They also present opportunities for your team members to make requests and ask for support. Be sure to listen carefully to each request and avoid making promises unless you know you can keep them. It is more important for your team members to know that they can trust you than for you to overpromise and underdeliver.

 

The collaboration examples listed above will help the members of your team embrace this work style. It is a big change from employees behaving competitively. The ways to improve collaboration suggested here create a much more pleasant atmosphere in the workplace.