‘Collaboration in teams’ has become a hot topic, having moved through two years of isolation, remote-working and a slow return to the office for so many.
At Activios, effective collaboration is at the crux of why we do what we do, we’ve worked with many businesses to create an environment that fosters collaboration. This is what we’ve learnt about the risks of non-collaboration, the importance of leadership, steps to foster collaboration and how to identify a team that is collaborating effectively.
The Risks Associated with an Absence of Collaboration
Individuals working in isolation can weigh an organization down with sluggish and possibly crippling results. Even with top minds all doing good work, the absence of coordinated effort will invariably result in duplication, over-engineering and underwhelming outcomes. Objectives may ultimately be achieved, but possibly late and very likely at a greater cost than necessary.
An absence of collaboration can also build a culture of individualists. Each person believing their solution to be the best or only option. Working in isolation of others creates a sense of competition and even exclusion to the detriment of the organization and the intra-relations within.
Knowledge is power and in a non-collaborative environment it may be tempting for an individual to withhold any negative revelations affecting others as a personal strategy to get ahead. This may benefit the individual, but not the organization. Worse still, this may sour internal relations if their tactic is exposed or even sensed. Mistrust is a recipe for high staff turnover.
The Importance of Leadership
It is important to note, for effective collaboration to take place, the most key ingredient is leadership. Often, teams are transient in nature with a diverse array of individuals entering and leaving over time. Personalities are rarely all harmonious. Regardless of their many differences, individuals ARE able to collaborate in a situation where they have a common purpose, especially when the stakes are high.
It is the leader’s job to articulate that purpose and to ensure commitment from all participants. It is also the leader’s job to enable regular engagements with the team and to create a safe platform where everybody’s opinion counts and is listened to. The leader should know when to back off and when to step in to promote maximum autonomy amongst the role players whilst keeping the ball in play. If all individuals in the team feel valued by the leader and the other team members, then this builds trust and camaraderie. It may take time to establish high levels of collaboration, but the more wins the team makes (even small ones) the more bonded they become.
Steps to Foster Collaboration in Your Team
Get together to fully understand the challenge and the end goal. A truly collaborative team is one in which all members are on the same page.
Assign work to individuals according to their expertise and in the presence of others – that way, everybody knows what the others’ assignments are.
Along the journey meet regularly to share inputs and experiences, keeping the team informed. This enables fine-tuning of the approaches, keeps everybody on the same page and allows for diverse inputs to support one another’s challenges.
Celebrate team successes. When the end goal is reached it’s a team victory!
The signs of effective collaboration
A collaborating team is made of individuals who are engaging with a common purpose, by contributing to the end goal with their unique skills and talents. There is camaraderie amongst the individuals and a positive culture of unified effort.
An effectively collaborating team can get to a precise end goal quicker and cheaper than anyone else (and can still have fun along the way!). Whereby, collaboration fosters early warning mechanisms and effective cross-communication to allow for necessary strategy adjustments that save effort and time in the long run.
How does Activios support collaboration?
By utilizing the full potential of ‘Actions’ within Activios, teams are able to define a desired end state and deadline during an engagement and appoint an accountable person who can, in turn, assign a group of individuals to support his/her efforts. All members of the team can remotely record their findings or outcomes (‘Action States’) into the system to build a sequenced progression of information. This information can be viewed in real-time. By holding regular engagement sessions (physically or virtually) conducted on Activios, the team can review their collective efforts and adapt approaches according to information gathered and/or changing circumstances. Documents can be linked to an Action, the Status can be adjusted to indicate, for example, when the situation has been ‘Contained’ and a Progress bar (which turns from green to red if the deadline date is breached) enables a visual reference which is useful when viewing a list of actions.
As a bonus, a permanent record is created of the steps taken to resolve an Action which can serve as a useful reference for audits or to review should a similar challenge arise at a later stage.
Time to Foster Collaboration?
Find out how Activios can support your team’s effort to collaborate effectively.