There’s no denying collaboration has changed the way we get things done in the workplace. However, effective collaboration can be challenging for organizations of all types, whether you’re a startup with five employees in one office or a multinational company with 500,000 employees across the globe.
Teamwork has always involved its own challenges, and as teams grow, collaborating becomes more complex. There’s more to remember, more opinions to consider, and more clarifications to run by the others.
Since we spend so much time collaborating with others, it’s no longer enough to just be a team player. Truly effective collaboration starts with understanding and working with
1. Conflicts in working style
No two people are ever the same. While some prefer working in groups, others do their best work alone. Some need no assistance to complete a task while others require external input every step of the way. When different ideologies, processes, and goals clash, conflicts arise.
According to a statistics report by Project Management Institute, 33% of projects fail due to a lack of involvement from the entire team. If teams are unclear on how to work together or why they need to collaborate, success is an unlikely outcome.
However, with effective delegation and considerate conflict resolution in the workplace, collaboration can increase productivity. Team members must communicate among themselves to clarify what everyone should be doing in their role so they’re all on the same page when the deadlines approach.
2. Physical proximity
For a company’s social environment to thrive, connection with fellow teammates is key. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that technology is changing the way the modern workforce interacts. From enabling us to work from nearly anywhere on any device to enhancing the way we communicate and collaborate, the opportunities to increase productivity via innovative technology is growing every day.
43% of U.S. workers said they spent at least some time working remotely in the past year, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report.
Teams, and organizations, come in all shapes and sizes today. Even with all the technology available, teams work better together when members are in close physical proximity. While remote work is physically possible, it’s not always the optimal way for teams to engage.
If team members mostly work remotely, it’s good to have periodic in-person team meetings to humanize their working relationships.
3. Building trust
Trust is fundamental to collaboration. While the challenge with workplace trust is it has to be built over time, it paves the path for productive, forward-thinking conversations. Building trust is easier said than done in most cases. Sometimes, employees make mistakes and it can be hard for you or other team members to trust them with any other decisions.
A workplace characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect, where people are comfortable being themselves, is ideal. It’s critical to develop strong connections with those around you, in the workplace and beyond. Trust is quickly established if you prioritize clear boundaries and expectations, openness, and regular communication.
In recent years, many organizations have turned to remote teams as a means of connecting and engaging with employees across the globe. Managing teams of this sort presents many, sometimes unique, challenges.
Collaboration is now coupled with technology, so many people stay in contact through different channels every day. According to the Harvard Business Review, managers today spend up to 85% of their time on collaborative tools, e-mail, in meetings, and on the phone—an increase of 50% in ten years.
To succeed in today’s dynamic, networked world, collaborative teams, along with their organization as a whole, need to master the art of communication. You can achieve this by fostering a culture of open communication with regular updates and holding check-ins with your team.
5. Responsibility and engagement
Considering the shift from an individualistic mindset to a collaborative one, a new story is emerging where interdependencies play a role in a business’s survival and success. A lack of properly defined responsibilities leads to a refusal to collaborate with individual team members and pessimistic views on the project.
To create a culture of collaboration, team members need to understand each other’s roles to share ideas. With each team member making unique contributions toward a common goal, they should receive equal credit in the outcome. Satisfying teamwork is achieved when the responsibilities are clear and team members are aligned.
Getting ready for the future of work
Teamwork may appear simple enough, but in practice, effective teamwork is difficult. In today’s workplace culture, it is essential to collaborate in order to meet the ever-increasing standards of organizational performance and goals.
Just as we can achieve extraordinary things when we work together, collaboration can help us break through the barriers that confine us. Overcoming the challenges of teamwork can help bring out the best among members and build organizational success.