Working in a collaborative way not only improves one’s skills and knowledge but is also very beneficial to the organization. Nowadays, with our current knowledge, it is more important that departments within an organization work in collaboration to achieve the best results. In this article we will take a look at the collaboration in the workplace and why it is so important to achieve success.
What is collaboration in the workplace?
Collaboration in the workplace refers to the action of individuals working together to solve problems, make decisions etc.. This definition is viable for the individuals of the same team or department as well as teams collaborating cross-departmentally. The goal of a collaboration is to incorporate all of the team’s knowledge, experience and skills to achieve a greater goal. With organizations becoming more and more complex, work has become mainly team-based. According to a survey, collaboration is the 4th most important skill for a worker’s success.
Why is collaboration important in the workplace?
No matter how we think of it, a coalition of individuals will have more impact than one person. In a team, each person represents a set of experience, knowledge and skill. Bringing all of these together into one team can bring results more effectively and more efficiently than leaving them scattered. Moreover, working in close collaboration promotes healthy employee relationships which can increase happiness and satisfaction at work and subsequently their performance.
The different inputs a team can bring to the table may be a great stimulator in the innovative spirit of the others. In fact, brainstorming is a good example for that. When people are given new information they can build upon that and come up with new ideas. Being constantly faced with new ideas can also shed a light on another perspective and thus make us think in another way which might be exactly what we needed to solve the problem at hand.
Encourages learning and sharing
When people work in close collaboration, it is guaranteed that they will learn from each other. This process can help individuals within the team to improve as individuals as well as a group because collaboration requires different point of views and a great amount of sharing. The workers’ uniqueness is what’s important here. Each person brings to the table their own experience and knowledge which will be shared.
An effective collaborative system makes the employee feel valued and heard. It creates an environment of sharing and openness that can increase the employees satisfaction and mental health in the workplace. We shouldn’t underestimate the value this satisfaction at work can have. In fact, it can reduce turnover, productivity and performance as well as make the employee happy and excited to come to a work environment where his opinion and ideas are valued and taken into account.
Nowadays we see a rise in companies that are trying to build up or strengthen teams by organizing meetings, team-buildings etc.. However, collaboration may be one of the greatest team-builders. It promotes interaction between employees and therefore strengthens their social and work bond. People who collaborate understand each other better and therefore feel much better when they’re around each other. Working together to achieve a greater goal gives the team members a strong sense of purpose with which they can work more effectively.
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With competition growing in every market, collaboration is now more important than ever. Employers have all the more benefits to encourage collaboration in the workplace as it is more effective to work in teams than each person individually. Teams build stronger bonds by collaborating, as well as increase their individual skill and knowledge and with it the resources at the disposal of the organization. In addition, they promote mental health and increase social interactions at work which improves productivity and performance. Managers and CEOs have nothing but good reasons to promote collaboration as it is an effective and healthy way to grow their business.
Brings together scattered teams
With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, remote work has become an important part of our daily lives. Working remotely has shown to reduce social interactions between workers and therefore weakened their bonds. With this in mind, to strengthen the team and its bonds again, proposing a collaboration seems to be the go to idea. Even if a task can be accomplished by only one person, managers can propose to two or more individuals to join up as it will boost their bond and increase their sense of belonging. Working remotely can leave us feeling lonely and isolated. We now have the technology to stay connected to people even if we’re not physically present with each other so it is really important that we put that technology to good use.
It is the foundation of an organization
In fact, collaboration can be the main definition of an organization. What is an organization but individuals working together towards a goal? Sometimes, this can be forgotten when dealing with a company on a large scale, however, it’s important not to forget this definition as it is a founding block of an organization.
How to effectively collaborate in the workplace?
Now that we have set the important reason to encourage collaboration in the workplace, it’s as important to know how to collaborate effectively with your coworkers. Keeping a certain set of values and goals in mind can ensure an effective collaboration.
Communication is one of the most important if not the most important asset in a collaboration. It refers to how well you can verbalize your ideas, make your goals clear as well as your oppositions. Make sure your intentions are clear and your ideas heard. Communication is a key part of a collaboration as it is what makes the team able to move smoothly towards a common goal. Be sure to set realistic predictions of what you’ll be able to accomplish, and don’t be afraid to voice up your inability to do a task. Taking on too much can be a real problem for you and the team, good communication can prevent that from happening.
Make sure you listen to what the others have to say; their opinions, feedback, ideas. You may be caught up in your own world of ideas that you want to share but make sure you listen to other people if you want to be listened to. A healthy collaborative environment promotes sharing as well as receiving ideas. Even if you do not agree with the ideas that come to light, the needs of the group are a priority.
Working in a team means that you’re not only accountable for yourself but also to the team members whose tasks depend on yours. You want to prioritize the tasks that other people depend on, as well as communicate effectively with your team members to ensure you are all on the same page.
Frequently asked questions:
What are the best tools for collaboration?
As cited above, technology has allowed us to create new tools that we can communicate and collaborate with. Companies have now optimized the tools to collaborate and made it more effective with a great focus on user experience. Here are some of them.
Trello is a project management online tool. It’s a really useful and user-friendly tool that allows you to organize projects and tasks as well as set deadlines. It has an instinctive visual platform that allows you to quickly keep track of your tasks as well as the tasks of others.
Google’s tools are now the most used collaboration tools that are available. From Google Calendar to Google Drive, you can share an infinite amount of information with your colleagues to ensure better transparency during collaborative work.
RingCentral is an app that makes teamwork seamlessly easy. It has a number of features that are essential to a collaboration like file sharing, task management, messaging, video conference etc..
How to improve collaboration in the workplace?
First, it is very important to set clear goals and deadlines. A team will move more efficiently towards a goal if it’s clear. Even though restrictions can obstruct the creative process for some people, the benefits of these restrictions are far more important. Giving the team members space to express their opinions is also very important. Not everyone learns or shares in the same way so it’s important to take into account the singularity of each member of the team. Celebrating victories can also be a very effective way to promote collaboration. That might not seem like much, but a reward for the team if their results are successful can be very meaningful to the individuals and may be an incentive to collaborate even more. Another way to improve collaboration might be to keep the teams small. That way, team members will find it easier to communicate with each other which can improve the outcome of the collaboration. It also means that the individuals will feel more responsible for the success of the collaboration as it gives more importance to their input.
How can collaboration be blocked?
Some managers lack the skills and ability to manage certain teams. In fact, a great manager’s asset is flexibility as the teams vary a lot. Certain team leaders do not give the space to other people to give their input or their opinion on certain subjects, which can restrict the effectiveness of the collaboration and sometimes block it. It will hinder the team’s efficiency, as well as promote an unhealthy work environment that doesn’t promote creativity and innovation as well as reduce commitment. Another ‘flaw’ team leaders may have is micromanaging. The upper echelons are always worried that their employees are not as productive as they can be or lack the skill set to accomplish tasks so they begin to micromanage them. This can kill the trust between and commitment of a member as he will feel that the team leader doesn’t trust them to do the work.