Some people are natural communicators and team players; others really aren’t. Whether you’re a team player or not, collaborating with people in the workplace is often harder than in our social lives, often because we don’t have far less say in who we work with than who we socialize with. As a team leader or manager, making sure your workforce can collaborate effectively is essential to a positive, productive work environment. Here are a few ways to create that environment.
Encourage Social Interaction
A common obstacle to successful collaboration is the fact that many teams are made up of people who rarely work together, particularly when it comes to interdepartmental projects. Having interacted very little makes effective collaboration difficult as team members know very little about each other. For this reason, it’s important to encourage and facilitate social interaction between colleagues. Team building exercises, company picnics and company sporting events are a few good ways to do this.
Team Building Events
Though social events like company picnics can facilitate interaction between departments, there’s a strong likelihood that people will still socialize within their normal clique. Team building exercises, where employees from different departments, who don’t often interact, are teamed together can be far more effective. Consider a team building afternoon or weekend to bring people together in a fun, stress-free environment. Successful collaboration outside the workplace can lead to far more effective in-office collaboration.
Encourage Direct Communication
Often personal differences can stand in the way of effective collaboration. This can be an issue even in offices that don’t require team projects. One might think that your employees, as adults, should be able to overcome these differences. Sadly, this is not the case. Petty differences, personal vendettas and even simple jealousy could be interfering with the running of your company.
Discourage “tattle-tailing” and gossip – many employees would sooner complain to a manager or colleague than confront the person directly. Should such complaints arise, ask the employee if they’ve addressed the person directly – if not, suggest they do so before coming back to you. Encourage your staff to resolve their interpersonal disputes face to face before taking it to a higher authority. Encouraging direct communication will help coworkers coexist peacefully and collaborate productively when necessary.
Introduce a Social Intranet
A social intranet in a business environment can be an invaluable tool. A great platform that, aside from a number of tools to better facilitate business processes, also has a great social aspect. It’s designed to be as engaging as possible to encourage employees to interact. This type of social network – specifically for employees within a company – allows them to share posts, ideas, pictures, chat with their colleagues and more. This allows employees to get to know each other better so that they can work well together and collaborate effectively.
Make Use of Online Tools
Several online tools make inter-office communication and collaboration easy without having to alter the schedules of an entire team. It’s a common conception that team projects require meetings, idea sessions and whole-team projects. However, the average office worker spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings, many of which involve team projects. Having an online platform where members can work on their aspect of a project and contribute their ideas in their own time, from anywhere can be far more productive
For sessions that do need an entire team present, make use of video chats like Skype. This way, the whole team can be present, even if members are in multiple locations, as well as being easier to fit into multiple schedules, and the project can move forward without anyone having to leave their desk. Video chats are also useful for discussing ideas, as a text chat can involve a lot of time-consuming back and forth and may make it difficult to fully express ideas or give accurate feedback.
No office environment will be without its issues, but every office will require collaboration of some sort. Making use of the right social platforms, encouraging social development with company events and team building, as well as equipping your employees with good conflict resolution strategies will make collaboration and communication easy and productive.