People are social creatures, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that no matter what the job is, your employees will produce better work when they join forces. Unfortunately, not all of your employees likely go out of their way to cooperate on projects or even get along.
With cooperation essential to your business’s success, it’s worth it to create an environment that facilitates collaboration and makes sharing ideas feel natural. If you are an executive or manager, how can you encourage collaboration among employees?
Here are a few best collaboration practices to get your employees or colleagues working together:
Use a Task Management System
Task management systems and digital workspaces make it easy for companies to manage their projects and assignments. Employees can use them to keep track of their daily and weekly goals and keep an eye on what their colleagues are doing. Having company workflows recorded and updated in a centralized location reduces the likelihood of miscommunication, and, therefore, interpersonal friction.
Test out platforms like Monday, Trello, and Asana to see what works best for your team. All of these options offer free trials.
Streamline All Forms of Communication
On a related note, your company should put considerable effort into streamlining all forms of communication. Disjointed systems that incorporate email, digital workspaces, calling, in-person meetings, social enterprise networks, and other methods leave too much room for miscommunication and confusion.
This practice does not mean micromanaging; rather, it means implementing well-constructed systems, tools, and protocols that simplify sharing information. For example, you can designate email as your company’s go-to for complaints and Slack for day-to-day conversations. Another option is setting up digital signage solutions around your premises, which are advantageous for disseminating mass communication that people are not likely to miss.
Listen to Employee Feedback
Managers are also part of the team, so collaboration won’t work unless you and other leaders put in the effort. Lead by example. Listen to your employees and take their concerns and ideas seriously. The more you are willing to cooperate with everyone within the company, the more likely your employees will collaborate amongst themselves.
In fact, a study from Qualtrics found that workers are four times more likely to stay at a company if their employers act on their feedback compared to those who feel that their feedback doesn’t matter. Create accessible ways for your employees to get your attention, such as maintaining an open-door policy, setting up a comment box, and making yourself available via email and digital workspaces.
Facilitate Team Building Exercises
If your employees are so busy with their duties that they don’t have time to socialize with each other, you need to reduce their workloads and actively create opportunities for them to interact. Doing so is essential for their engagement: according to Officevibe, 70% of employees say that having friends at work is the most critical element of a happy work life.
Facilitate team-building exercises so everyone can build stronger relationships. Activities can include scavenger hunts, ice breaker games, company retreats and gatherings outside of work, and more. Don’t make your employees participate in something they aren’t interested in, though, so run a poll or survey to see what team activities will be most engaging.
Set Clear Goals And Work Towards Them
Employees and managers who have a clear idea of what they’re working toward have more structure. They are thus able to collaborate more effectively because they understand the direction they need to go in. Make your team’s objectives clear whenever you begin a new project: collaboration is more straightforward when everyone is on the same page and moves at the same pace.
Goals are practical for cross-team collaboration as well. Communicate different departments’ expectations and how their work will ultimately come together, so everyone knows the big picture. Delegate tasks, definite agreed-upon roles, and assume the role of mediator when disputes arise.
Encourage New Ideas – And Make Sure Everyone Is Heard
People are less inclined to work together if their colleagues or managers shut down their voices and ideas. Ensuring everyone has equal opportunity to speak is imperative — not only to improve innovation but to communicate how much you value your employees.
Pay attention to who tries to share ideas but is silenced or doesn’t speak up as often. Do men talk over women in meetings, or repeat women’s ideas and claim them as their own? Do People of Color endure microaggressions and other abuse? If you see or hear it happening, step in immediately and make sure everyone has a chance to speak or is disciplined accordingly.
You don’t want your employees to think twice about collaborating with their team members; it should be the first thing they think to do. Organizations that acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate collaboration create an environment where cooperation is more feasible and commonplace, so reward your employees when they work together to incentivize it becoming a habit.
Acknowledgment can look like large parties to celebrate achievements or small shoutouts on digital signage screens to recognize individual employees. Your employees are investments, not expenses, so make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Collaboration among employees will improve your company’s chances of success and promote a healthy workplace culture. Make sure whatever collaboration practices you implement account for everyone’s needs and allow for real friendships to develop.