Collaboration Among Employees
For most companies, if not all, the desire to have a team that gets along well is one of the most important aspects of operations. Many companies have clearly defined cultural values and work to find new employees who will reflect and embody those values. Perhaps you have a team that gets along well and that’s great - but now you want to ensure that employees are able to help each other and collaborate effectively. Collaboration among employees is important to foster and something every company should consider.
Before going further, it is also important to consider that teamwork also has downsides. Undoubtedly, there are times when teamwork is essential and helps produce incredible results. However, on the flip side there are also times when it gets in the way of tasks or even keeps people from being fully productive. Personalities clash and conflicts arise even within the best of teams.
For any leader, it is important to consider if teamwork is needed and how often. What are the benefits? Will teamwork help produce the best results for a project? Is it possible to complete certain tasks separately? Departments often interact in some manner - but how often do they need to directly collaborate on projects? Ultimately, collaboration among humans often produces incredibly innovative ideas - just consider when it is or is not necessary.
Investing in your employees is a great way to work toward your organization’s goals, while also providing the opportunity for them to gain new skills and advance their careers. No one will ever know it all and they should not attempt to, but the idea of continually learning and improving is important. With all of the changes rapidly occurring in an increasingly globalized world, frequent training will be essential.
In addition to training opportunities to improve individual skills, many different organizations offer classes, seminars, and more to help improve teamwork efforts. Your team doesn’t have to be clearly struggling with teamwork to derive benefits from such opportunities.
Clearly Defined Positions and Goals
It is important for employees to clearly understand what their role is and this of course includes teams working together. This helps employees with knowing what to do, what is expected of them, and ultimately producing better results. Gallup reports that two of the main causes behind employee burnout include an unmanageable workload and lack of role clarity.
Teamwork has the potential to help an unmanageable workload, but it is important for each person to know what they are meant to do and what overall expectations are. The authors explain, “When accountability and expectations are moving targets, employees can become exhausted just trying to figure out what people want from them.” Without clear direction, teamwork has the potential to exacerbate the problem if multiple employees or the entire team is failing to understand what they are supposed to do.
Managers need to clearly define and explain the overall project and each person’s role. Of course, as projects get underway team members may be able to help each other with different tasks or take on other parts of the project. That is perfectly okay as long as communication is frequent and clear.
Communication in the workplace is an incredibly important factor for improving collaboration among employees. While this statement appears obvious, many still underestimate how difficult it often is. Generally speaking, people from the same country communicate in similar ways. Americans are known for low-context communication meaning they speak explicitly, directly, and elaborately to ensure there is little to no confusion about a situation. While this is typically the American style of communication (the degree to how explicit or direct is relative to other cultures), not every American person communicates this way. Further, this varies regionally and possibly from state to state.
The point is that communication is complex and this extends to the workplace and teamwork. On any team, even made up entirely of Americans, you are likely to find varying styles of communication. The factors behind this possibly include where they grew up, multicultural backgrounds, and various other events in their life. Managers should take all of this into consideration and they may want to look into different ways to strengthen workplace communication. This could involve setting up meetings for this exact purpose or even looking outward to training events. With changes from COVID-19, we are likely to see increases in permanent remote workers or flexible part-time remote positions. Organizations would be wise to look into communication tools and training opportunities now to prepare for such a reality.
Improving Collaboration Among Employees
The information above is by no means exhaustive in regards to improving collaboration among employees. However, training opportunities, defining positions and goals, and improving communication are three important factors organizations should consider. Training opportunities to help all employees better communicate is especially important. If everyone is able to communicate effectively the better chances to keep a project on track and produce outstanding work. Plus, employees will be happier - and less at risk of experiencing burnout - meaning you can keep talented employees around.