15 Effective Collaboration Strategies for the Workplace
Updated February 28, 2023
Teamwork is a key feature of many successful organizations. Working together with others and sharing ideas can drive innovation, improve efficiency and lead to increased productivity. Knowing how to motivate your employees to collaborate is an important skill to help create a cohesive, team-oriented environment.
In this article, we discuss what a collaboration strategy is and 15 strategies for encouraging collaboration among your team members.
Read more: What Is a Collaborative Leader?
What is a collaboration strategy?
A collaboration strategy is how businesses approach teamwork within their organization. It refers to the ways in which a company promotes or requires employees working together to meet goals and complete projects.
15 collaboration strategies
Here are 15 strategies for successful collaboration you can implement in your organization:
1. Model the behavior
Showing employees how to work together can be more effective than telling them. Collaborate with your peers often to model the behavior you want to see in your team. Ask others for ideas and use their suggestions. Schedule brainstorming sessions with groups of employees.
Request a team to review a report or proposal you're working on and provide feedback. When your employees see that you're engaging in these activities, it can help motivate them to participate.
2. Review the company's mission and values
Spend time reviewing your company's mission statement and values with employees. Connect the mission to your objectives so employees understand the reasoning behind certain activities, such as team projects and peer reviews. Explain that the company values its employees and wants each person to be heard and respected, which can set them up to succeed.
3. Set measurable goals
Set clearly defined goals for each team so that they know their objectives and how you're evaluating their work. Try to avoid subjectivity and make goals that are measurable and definitive. For example, rather than giving a team an assignment to create a marketing strategy, you might ask the team to develop three digital marketing campaigns and two media marketing strategies.
Your goals should include deadlines for the task or for each phase of longer projects. Consider creating a project brief with all key information that team members can sign at the beginning of the project.
4. Keep groups an appropriate size
Depending on the scope of your projects, try to optimize team sizes. For a larger project that might take several months and involves a variety of tasks, you need a larger group. For a small task, such as coming up with a plan to recognize team member birthdays each month, you may only need two or three people. You want to provide a variety of perspectives and enough work for each team member to contribute significantly.
5. Define team member roles
For large projects, consider defining each team member's role to help define the group and avoid competition. Or you can provide the roles and allow the team to assign them. In either case, each team member has a better idea of their responsibilities, and you know how best to hold each member accountable based on their role in the group.
6. Promote creativity
One benefit of collaboration is the innovation that can result from differing viewpoints coming together. Encourage employees to think creatively and offer nontraditional ideas. This can help motivate employees to come up with more efficient, effective solutions and propel your company forward.
Read more: 10 Team-Building Training Exercises
7. Assign projects that need critical thinking
When problems do not have an easily defined answer, collaborative efforts can help develop unique and varied strategies to address them. When your business encounters an issue that requires critical thinking and analysis, ask several team members to work together to develop strategies. Approaching the problem from multiple perspectives can help uncover relevant background information, introduce new components and develop multifaceted solutions.
8. Organize the process
When you implement collaboration among team members, it's important to explain exactly what that looks like. Employees can better understand and participate if you discuss your expectations and the details of the process. For instance, you might set aside time each week for groups to meet or lead a workshop on group projects to make sure everyone feels comfortable with the dynamics.
9. Use diminishing involvement
Consider using a diminishing involvement strategy in which you play an active role in group projects at the onset of the assignment. Then as the project progresses, you begin to ease away from your leadership role, allowing the team members to manage their roles on their own.
10. Foster diversity and inclusion
Diverse perspectives can help generate new ideas and innovative approaches. Make sure your groups are diverse and inclusive. Review company policies for fair treatment in the workplace to make sure all employees adhere to your organization's standards when interacting with others.
11. Share information and resources
To help facilitate effective collaboration, share any information that your employees might find helpful. You can create a list of resources, contacts and important reminders to help teams navigate their planning and organization stages.
12. Incorporate technology
Technology can enhance collaboration among colleagues by:
Connecting people in different locations
Providing collaborative document creation, storage and management solutions
Tracking project duties and status
Offering messaging services between groups
Creating ways to share ideas and feedback with clients or other employees
Enhancing presentations products
13. Facilitate open communication
Encourage employees to speak openly and directly with you and their peers. Create an environment that values honesty, constructive feedback and open communication. This can help your team avoid misunderstandings and deal with issues as they arise, rather than letting them become larger problems. Reiterate the importance of respecting other people's opinions and being professional, even when managing a disagreement.
14. Reward successful collaboration
Recognize employees who work well with others and successfully complete projects as a team. Rewarding the types of behavior that the company prioritizes can help increase employee motivation and engagement. You can congratulate employees through:
A department-wide or company-wide email acknowledging their success
A sign or banner in the office
A gift card
An afternoon of PTO
A catered lunch celebration
15. Ask for feedback
Employees can be more likely to engage in activities that they help develop. Ask your team members to share their preferences about working with their peers with questions like:
Do you prefer to work in small (2-5 people) or large (6+ people) groups?
Do you like having set project directions or would you rather create your own plan?
Do you prefer being a team leader or team member?
What type of leadership style do you prefer?
You can use this information to create teams of like-minded employees who prefer the same work styles and incorporate strategies that resonate with the majority of employees.
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