5 strategies for effective team collaboration

Happy people are 13% more productive within the workplace. So, both employees and companies share a common interest to create a pleasant working environment. To accomplish pleasant working surroundings, establishing good team communication and collaboration is essential. When presented with this task, it’s best that you employ effective team collaboration strategies.

In this article, you will find some practical and demonstrably effective team collaboration strategies, complete with examples on how you can implement them. 

What is a team collaboration strategy, and why is it important?

A team collaboration strategy is a system by which an organization structures teamwork. Collaboration strategies consist of guidelines that set the rules of interaction and collaboration between teammates. 

Various research has shown that improving team collaboration can lead to positive outcomes with teams from various backgrounds, such as:

  • Science-focused teams. Within an environment of increasing scientific research complexity, studies have found that successful collaboration leads to greater productivity. 
  • Education teams. A collaborative educational environment increases creativity, helps learner outcomes, and makes the teacher’s working environment more efficient and innovative.
  • Healthcare teams. Effective teamwork between healthcare providers reduces extra work. Collaboration, along with perceived patient outcomes, accounts for up to 60% of the variance of job satisfaction for health professionals. 
  • Software industry teams. Efficient team coordination makes the software production process at least 5% more productive.

Improving team collaboration depends on the implementation of a solid collaborative strategy. When well-thought-out and carefully implemented, a team collaboration strategy can bring clear benefits to the team.

Improved cost-effectiveness

Productive teams achieve better results. Strategies to promote collaborative behavior have repeatedly been shown to facilitate high productivity, thus reducing production costs. When teamwork is successful, the production process runs smoothly. There is a reduction in lost time, double work, misunderstandings, and other factors that slow down construction.

Enhanced quality of products and services

Wise implementation of collaborative strategies ensures improved quality of products and services. When communication is streamlined, employees have quick and effortless access to resources necessary for providing goods and services.

Increased worker engagement

Employing collaborative strategies makes the employees more engaged. Increased engagement improves individual performance and task commitment. In addition, the levels of personal motivation to achieve a common goal are also significantly increased.

An overall improvement in attitudes towards the workplace

You can create a genuine sense of companionship through focused implementation of a team collaboration strategy. Along with improved overall job satisfaction, forming solid relationships with their colleagues makes people more likely to view the company in a positive light. This collaborative attitude can reduce absenteeism and sick days misuse, as well as increase worker retention.

Top 5 strategies to improve team collaboration right away

Effective cooperation strategies have plenty of benefits for teachers, managers, IT experts, and other professionals. Putting these strategies into practice requires a systematic change in all aspects of operations within an organization. It is an extensive process that requires plenty of careful deliberation and long-term planning. To make this process more comprehensible, we explain in detail the what, how, and why of each strategy we propose.

Here is a list of 5 strategies you can implement to help improve team collaboration:

Build a culture of cooperation

People are more likely to look for other job opportunities if they feel under-appreciated at their current workplace. According to this Gallup report, this is especially true for Millennials, who will soon become the majority of the workforce. 

According to the definition, corporate culture represents the collection of rules and values an organization uses to manage interactions between employees and handle outside business transactions. Corporate culture reflects in all aspects of company operations.

A collaborative corporate culture places central value on collaborative teamwork. This is accomplished by setting up office space, team structure, support systems, and other organizational elements in a way that is supportive of effective teamwork.

Why building a culture of cooperation is so important

Some of the most pronounced benefits of building a culture of cooperation:

  • Enhanced productivity and rates of innovation
  • Employees feel appreciated and welcome
  • Clear guidelines help dissolve conflict in the workplace
  • Improved sense of community
  • Increased worker commitment

How to build a culture of cooperation 

Building a cooperative culture requires organizing company space, communication guidelines, and team structure in a way that facilitates efficient collaboration. In gist, collaboration is improved by providing a work environment that encourages teamwork by providing an adequate setting and appropriate support systems.

Some ways to build a collaborative corporate culture include:

  • Accounting for significant investments. Maintaining a company culture that emphasizes community building can be a costly affair. However, this should not be viewed as a loss but as an investment that is bound to yield profit in the long run. This is because good team communication is undeniably important for company growth, innovation, and overall success.
  • Making the work environment comfortable. A bright office with no clutter is much more welcoming than a dingy cubicle. In addition, having easy access to teammates makes people more likely to cooperate. Still, be careful to keep some sense of privacy, as not too many people enjoy sitting in a completely open area as they might feel like they are being monitored at all times.
  • Create a diverse and inclusive environment. There are challenges to integrating more diverse teams, as people tend to collaborate more easily with others they consider similar. However, when you overcome these challenges, there is an overall positive influence on a company’s reputation. Considering that promoting diversity is a socially responsible practice, it tends to attract quality workers.
  • Encourage open, honest communication. The organization should provide channels of communication that allow members to feel safe to express their opinions and feelings.
  • Employ people who are cooperative by their nature. When opening a position, select candidates with cooperative traits. Assertive and friendly people will find it easier to fit in with the existing team.
  • Provide support for informal relationship building. Team building combined with other interventions has a positive effect on perceptions and attitudes towards the organization. For example, outdoor activities are particularly effective as they tend to be more casual and relaxed.
  • Provide collaborative skills training. Research shows that training collaboration skills improves team performance substantially. The training can be organized by hiring a professional educator, relaying this task to HR, or providing access to online courses.

🔸 Examples of building a culture of cooperation

Carrie has just started working at a software development company.  The HR team made sure her skills and friendly personality would fit the team she was assigned to. On her first day of work, she is welcomed by her colleagues and introduced to her responsibilities. Each team member makes sure to answer her questions and point her to the necessary resources. Carrie is impressed with the pleasant atmosphere, office space, and equipment. She is excited to work at a company that cares about how its employees feel and will be committed to her responsibilities.

Break down communication barriers

A communication failure occurs when a message is sent, but its intended receiver misunderstands it. Within organizations, communication failures tend to happen when there are no clearly delineated channels of communication

Other factors that affect the quality of communication have to do with team structure and personal differences between team members. For example, fewer non-verbal cues in virtual meetings can cause a higher likelihood of misunderstanding for remote teams.

In addition, people have different communication styles, and not taking this into account can increase the sense of alienation and affect the confidence of less assertive team members.

To break down communication barriers means to specify and to try to overcome misunderstandings, information sharing interruptions, and other instances of incoherent communication.

Why breaking down communication barriers is so important

Some benefits of overcoming communication hurdles include:

  • Preventing worker burnout and stress, as misunderstandings are much less frequent
  • Decreasing the likelihood of production delays and lost time, as problems are more likely to be communicated in a timely manner
  • Opening space for innovation, as people feel more comfortable engaging in discussions
  • Improving information flow 

How to break down communication barriers

Overcoming communication difficulties is done by promoting open debate and discussion, creating streamlined channels of information, and navigating diverse communication styles. Here are some practical instructions on how to approach conquering communication barriers:

  • Make room for constructive feedback. Many operations run on inertia and challenging the status quo is not appreciated. Overcome these outdated habits by organizing frequent employee opinion inquiries and asking for feedback during regular meetings.
  • Encourage discussion of ideas. Ensure that team members can freely share their suggestions by organizing dedicated meetings and brainstorming sessions. Within these meetings, no subject should be untouchable, and each opinion should be given respect. Taking the collaborative effort to meet and brainstorm ideas often leads to finding more effective alternative solutions to known issues.
  • Encourage sharing valuable information. The willingness to share comes naturally when team members feel safe and appreciated in their workspace. You can accomplish this by rewarding cooperation with praise, small gifts, and bonuses. Establishing reward systems for efficient teamwork can discourage unheathly competition between team members by placing greater value on collective and not individual performance.
  • Accommodate different communication styles. To communicate with more ease, adapt your manner of speech to different personal styles of communication. Another way of making collaboration enjoyable for different personalities is to ask people which method of communication they prefer. If possible, try to incorporate the methods they prefer into daily correspondence.

🎓 To learn more about how to overcome specific communication barriers — from cultural to physical ones — check out our in-depth guide on the subject of communication barriers.

🔸 Example of breaking down communication barriers

A team of university researchers runs into issues with team members’ clashing opinions. They cannot seem to agree on their project’s future direction. They decide to organize an in-person meeting to discuss ideas and suggestions. After a respectful debate, they conclude that their main issue is a lack of cooperation due to different communication styles and complicated means of sharing new findings. The team decides to organize more informal meetings and to start using a team communication app as a simple and efficient way of staying connected.

Lead by example

According to Harvard Business Review, the perceived actions of leaders influence cooperative behavior. To explain this process, we can look into Bandura’s definition of the concept of observational learning. According to Bandura, observational learning is the process of acquiring thought patterns, attitudes, and behaviors through watching others. This psychological theory sees social modeling as a way to short-cut learning processes. Following this mechanism, people subconsciously measure the pros and cons of observed behavior. If there are apparent benefits, people are more likely to model the behavior.

In a business setting, senior executives carry the authority which shapes the guidelines for employee conduct. This suggests that employees will be more willing to be cooperative if they see their leaders setting the example to do so.

Why leading by example is so important

Some reasons why leading by setting a positive example is crucial:

  • The actions of leaders inspire those around them 
  • Leaders set the standard of acceptable behavior
  • Leaders guide ethical conventions
  • Leaders are responsible for projecting the company’s vision

How to lead by example

To be able to lead by example, you should first assess your own behavior and attitude. After completing this first step, you can approach creating guidelines for employee behavior. Having finished this task, you should be prepared to follow the same rules you expect others to follow. In order to effectively lead by example, you should make sure to at all times behave in an ethical way, and to be mindful of the stated mission of your organization. Here are some  ways you can lead by setting an example:

  • Make sure that suitable people are in leadership positions. Trust in the leader is paramount to the success of a team. This is because people tend to consider those they deem justice-loving, empathetic, and even physically appealing as more trustworthy. This means that to be perceived as trustworthy, leaders need to stay aware of the image they project.
  • Leaders should be aware of their influence. The attitudes and behavior of leaders can affect employees’ actions both in a positive and negative way. Taking this into account, you should regularly check for any abuse of power, as it can endanger the entire team.
  • The work of senior executives should be transparent. When workers know what their superiors are planning, they can gain more of a sense of trust. When the uncertainty of not knowing about company plans is removed, the work environment becomes less stressful and tense.
  • Follow the rules. It is not only a matter of common decency to not break the rules you expect others to follow. Being honest and abiding by the rules also affects the attitudes of your employees. Hypocrisy can severely undermine a leader’s authority, so make sure to stay vigilant. 

🔸Example of leading by example

Greg has the difficult task of choosing a new team leader. His candidates are Amy and Simone, both of whom are dedicated and efficient long-term employees. Amy is persistent and goal-oriented. She gets things done in record time. She is also highly competitive and proud, which sometimes makes her hesitant to share information and cooperate with her teammates.

Simone is an all-around solid worker, definitely not as efficient as Amy, but always on time nonetheless. She has a steady and detail-oriented approach to task management. Her sunny disposition is contagious, and she makes sure to always extend a helping hand. 

After careful deliberation, Greg chooses Simone for the promotion as he believes that her capacity for collaboration is of prime importance. He is aware that people look up to their leaders as role models — and Simone is fit for the part. Greg knows that in the long-term, it is better to place importance on teamwork, as it will eventually pay off through increased productivity and worker engagement.

Set clear goals and define roles

Having a clear purpose is the defining feature of successful teams. Another important factor behind high-performance teamwork is a team’s shared sense of accomplishment for contributing to a worthwhile goal. This sense of accomplishment comes from team members personally identifying with the set objective. When people reframe the company and team’s goals as their own, they gain intrinsic motivation to work on achieving them. In addition, many sources suggest that personally identifying with an objective makes a person less likely to procrastinate

When clear goals and objectives are set, people can imagine in greater detail what their contributions can be, and the sense of accomplishment they would feel after finishing their tasks. This mental image can help motivate people to be more productive and dedicated to their work.

Why setting clear goals and defining roles is so important

Here is how clearly defining goals and expectations can be helpful:

  • They prevent frustration with unclear expectations
  • They increase motivation
  • They reduce double work and wasted time
  • They can help keep people focused and productive

How to set clear goals and define roles

Setting clear goals and expectations involves defining realistic objectives, and providing detailed instructions and examples of how to achieve them.

To improve focus and encourage a maximally productive work environment, you can implement these tactics:

  • Break down the objective into manageable tasks. Each accomplished step gives people the additional motivation to reach the end goal.
  • Provide detailed descriptions. Team member roles and responsibilities should be detailed in written instructions and distributed to team members. After doing this, you have to make sure that the instructions have been understood, as people will inevitably do double work if their obligations are not clearly communicated.
  • Create guidelines for your team to communicate and work together. Creating straightforward guidelines helps reduce people’s anxiety over communication. Another benefit of implementing this solution is avoiding costly misunderstandings caused by incomplete cooperation instructions. 
  • Keep people in the loop. The best way to keep your employees informed is to organize regular meetings. Daily meetings may be necessary for a fast-changing context but can inhibit productive work in a more steady-pace environment. This means that you should carefully assess the regularity of meetings you arrange.
  • Appreciate effort. Making sure people feel appreciated for their contribution to the common goal helps them stay motivated. You can show people your appreciation by delivering small gifts, bonuses, and plenty of praise.
  • Do away with micromanagement. Lack of autonomy caused by micromanagement stresses out your employees and removes space for innovation. It is in your best interest to trust your employees to do the right thing, and to remove obstacles for autonomous work.

🔸Example of setting clear goals and defining roles

Kayla is nervous about her first day of work at a luxury hotel. She is slightly intimidated by her new responsibilities and coworkers. Fortunately, during her training, she is provided with detailed guidelines on what is expected of her and what means will be used to assess her efficacy. She is informed of all possible scenarios and how to approach them. This has filled a knowledge gap that caused much of her uncertainty and anxiety. She can be more relaxed at her workplace as she knows what is expected of her and feels safe knowing what she needs to do when needing help.

Use team collaboration tools

A fast-paced work environment requires the use of quality technology. Email is becoming obsolete due to being slow, ineffective, and hard to share. Other traditional means of communication may bring about a feeling of impatience to the younger generation of workers. 

Alternatives to traditional means of correspondence come in the form of team collaboration tools. Team collaboration tools are software products that provide more efficient solutions to team coordination and communication, as well as task and project management.

Why using team collaboration tools is so important

Here are some major benefits to using team collaboration tools:

  • Less time wasted on slow correspondence
  • Increased productivity
  • Accelerated communication and information sharing 
  • Strengthened team relationships 
  • Improved task management

How to use team collaboration tools

Solutions to slow correspondence are especially relevant now that many employees work from home and need efficient means of staying in the loop. Provide your team with a way to remain connected by:

  • Incorporating a team chat app. Using a team chat app for internal communication makes file sharing and communication between team members simple and direct.
  • Using project management software. As much as 77% of high-performing projects rely on the use project management tools. These tools help keep track of complex tasks and project progress.
  • Using shared calendars. These tools can help keep everyone up-to-date with meetings and deadlines.  
  • Providing training. Not everyone has the same technical skills, so appropriate training should be provided for the use of team collaboration tools.

🔸 Example of using team collaboration tools

A company has a sudden spike in the number of people using its product. To accommodate this growth, new people are hired to tackle the increased workload. Over a period of a few weeks, it becomes apparent that there is a significant communication problem between old and new employees. The old workers were accustomed to the dynamics of a small team and used email to communicate. The newly hired people caused a disturbance by being used to and expecting faster means of communication. The company decides to start using a team chat app, as a more effective solution to a more fast-paced environment.

In conclusion

Fluent teamwork is the core feature of successful organizations. It is ensured by setting clear terms of conduct among teammates. And, the most efficient way to facilitate cooperation among teammates is by having an adequate team collaboration strategy. A well-devised team collaboration strategy can put you at an advantage when it comes to group performance. It is also a great way to minimize communication failures and personal resentment among team members. Successful planning of collective work requires time and dedication but is nonetheless a worthwhile goal, as collaborative strategies ensure positive outcomes when it comes to productivity and employee satisfaction.

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