Any business, large or small, requires collaboration. At its most fundamental level, collaboration occurs when team members are working together on a singular project that requires multiple people. The reason multiple parties are required is either to manage the sheer volume of the work, or to manage the parts of a project for which they are most qualified.
Solution 1: The Hands-Off Approach
Collaboration can extend beyond the workload of a single team and a single project. Writing for the Harvard Business Review on Six Common Misconceptions about Teamwork, J. Richard Hackman put forward the argument that ‘the most powerful thing a leader can do to foster effective collaboration is to create conditions that help members competently manage themselves.’Hackman went on to attribute that 60% of ‘how well a team performs’ is down to the conditions created by the team leader in question, with a further 30% being down to the launch phase of the project and only 10% being down to real-time coaching.This hands-off approach may seem drastic. Putting a lot of trust in new teams may not come naturally, particularly to those less experienced in leadership. However, it’s critical that the leader implements the right conditions, not just to ensure they have the tools in place to work to the standard that’s expected of them, but enough to trust that there’s full clarity about workflow and permit their leader to take that hands-off stance.
Solution 2: Creating the Right Workplace
The first solution to creating the ideal conditions for collaboration is down to communication and its effectiveness. A team leader should provide their team with a means by which they can communicate quickly and efficiently, regardless of factors such as distance between team members or multiple conversations being had at once.Slack (a messaging app for teams) provides a fantastic utility to allow for such situations. Jim Bowes, chief executive and co-founder of Slack, produced the app to be both thematic and conversational. Speaking to the Telegraph, a national newspaper in the United Kingdom, he described the app’s success as being down to the fact that it ‘gives people the ability to have discussions about topics without constantly interrupting each other.’The app succeeds in creating collaborative spaces by allowing the team leader to create as many ‘rooms’ as there are elements to the project. These can be as broad as ‘Office Administration’, or as focused as ‘Press Release Draft’, but the important thing is that a real-time messaging environment specifically for the project at hand is provided devoid of other distractions.Another factor to Slack’s success is how it easily integrates with other collaboration giants such as Dropbox and Google Drive. This interconnectivity helps to minimize time wasted. Team members no longer need to shift between platforms. Instead team members can access information from shared documents quickly and efficiently.
Solution 3: Fluidity in Familiarity
Each of these apps also look and behave in familiar and intuitive ways. Ask any Dropbox user. They’ll say that using Dropbox is no different to saving files locally on a computer. Google Docs users find the looks and functionally similar to Microsoft Word and a Google Sheet the same as an Excel spreadsheet. Slack feels like an instant messenger would be expected to behave. These apps are easy to use because they adopt the already-known paradigms of already popular and known apps, but the go further with more convenient collaboration features such as file sharing, and real-time collaborative editing where everything stays in sync online.Here at TeamworkIQ, we take the same approach to embrace and extend already popular, familiar and pervasive collaboration platforms: Email and online documents for tracking projects and processes. Just as you always would, send email to people outlining who needs to do what. However, this time if you include TeamworkIQ on the list of recipients, it will turn the action items in your message into a shared online checklist document, invite everyone involved in the work to it, and coordinate the tasks and process steps for you through to completion.Or, use TeamworkIQ.com’s web app to create checklists by simply typing up a list of tasks like you would in Google Docs or Microsoft Word. When outlining who needs to do what, use regular bullets for regular tasks and numbered bullets for work that should be done step by step. Assign tasks by typing @ and the assignee’s name.By using broadly adopted platforms like email, intuitive experiences like typing up a document and the familiar, simple concept of a checklist, TeamworkIQ is not only easy to use, turns work you’d be doing already to communicate what needs doing into automated, managed processes for you.
Clear communications, knowing what to do next, and having access to the information and tools you need to do it, creates the right conditions for higher productivity. With the right apps and utilities at their disposal, a team can work confidently knowing that they understand the process to execute a project.