Why Having a Collaboration Strategy is Crucial

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” – Henry Ford 

We all know that working together can bring great results. A good collaboration strategy can yield excellent outcomes in many areas of life, including school, sports, and, of course, business. Teamwork and team collaboration doesn’t always come naturally or easily. Individuals have their own ideas, goals, preferences and biases.  

These differences make it crucial to have a collaboration strategy. Without it, a group cannot transform into a team and will remain individuals. Often, a group without a collaboration strategy can yield poorer results than individuals working independently. 

What is a collaboration strategy? 

A collaboration strategy is a system or process of working together within an organisation. It refers to how a business requires or guides its employees to work together to meet a specific goal or project outcome.  

Having a collaboration strategy involves employees working together, rather than individually. This is not always easy to do, which is why a business must encourage teamwork and promote collaboration through company culture. Employees must adopt a mindset of working as a team to encourage a collaborative environment in the workplace. Without this, employees may resist working as a team with others. 

Imagine you’re part of a rowing team. What do you think would happen if everyone was just going at their own pace, without listening to the Cox? Some will be slower than others, some will be doing more work, while others may even just be sitting on the boat doing nothing at all. Think of a collaboration strategy as the Cox that guides everyone to work together. 

Successful collaboration strategies 

There are several collaboration strategies to encourage a collaborative environment in any organisation.  

  • Use individual strengths 

Collaboration is about working together to achieve a common goal.  Everyone can, and should, bring their individual skills, talents, and strengths to the table. One employee might be good at graphic design and another at copywriting. Employees can take on specific roles and ensure they do their part to succeed.  

  • Model collaborative behavior 

Management must encourage and model collaboration in the workplace. Be open to your employees’ ideas and suggestions. Show them how you collaborate with other leadership team members and partners. You can even ask your team members for suggestions on how you can better collaborate with them or how they can work with other team members. 

  • Give specific reasons and expectations 

Be upfront and explicitly tell your team members that you expect them to be collaborative with each other. Effectively communicate what you need them to do and how they can collaborate. Let them know their individual and team responsibilities, so everyone understands what is expected of them and how to move forward. 

  • Organise the collaboration process 

When you want people to collaborate, you must give the team a system or explain how they can successfully work on the collaboration strategy. Give them details on how they can go about the process. For example, you can implement a weekly meeting for the entire organisation or offer workshops that teach your employees different collaboration tools. 

  • Promote diversity and inclusion 

An effective collaborative environment comes from a diverse and inclusive workplace. To have new and creative ideas, you must have a diverse pool of people who can share their perspectives. When you only have people from similar backgrounds, you can expect them to have similar ideas and suggestions. You must also ensure that your organisation’s policies foster a safe and inclusive working environment.  

  • Reward collaboration 

The most effective type of reinforcement is positive reinforcement. Give your team members rewards for collaborative successes and accomplished group projects. This reinforces that collaboration is essential for them and the business. During performance evaluations, include team collaboration as one of the metrics to emphasise that employees must know how to work with a team. 

Team collaboration tools 

A collaboration strategy is easier to implement when your team has the right tools at their disposal. Team collaboration is more efficient when employees have more to rely on than calls, emails, and face-to-face meetings.  

Here are some of the most popular and helpful team collaboration tools: 

1. Slack 

Slack is a popular app that offers a messaging platform for businesses allowing people to connect and work together as a team. It also offers file transfers, creating group or project-specific channels, and powerful search capabilities. Many businesses use Slack as their primary collaboration tool and it’s easy for people to become  

2. Trello 

Trello is a great collaboration tool when managing several team members and assigning them tasks you need to keep track of. It has an easy-to-use interface allowing users to drag task cards across columns, depending on the status of the task card. It’s been compared to Solitaire, the old computer card game, because of this drag-a-card feature. Trello is an excellent collaboration tool for assigning tasks and monitoring projects. On Trello, team members can have a birds-eye view of what other members are working on.  

3. Monday.com 

Monday.com is a powerful Work OS designed to allow teams to shape their own workflows. It offers five products that can help customise the way you manage your business. For example, Monday Projects is a project management tool that offers one platform allowing users to collaborate in one place on a single project, multiple projects, or even complex portfolio management. 

4. Google Docs 

While Google Docs may not seem like a powerful collaboration tool, it is excellent for small businesses who just want a simple, easy-to-use option which allows teams to edit files on Google Docs and Sheets simultaneously, track edits, and save changes automatically. For small organisations who need a no-frills way to work on documents and spreadsheets together, Google Docs is a great option. 

 5. Asana 

Asana is another popular collaboration tool that focuses on project management. Users can assign tasks to team members, create projects, add followers, and keep track of deadlines. Organisation members can use it to keep track of their assigned tasks and see an overview of their deadlines. It also has a built-in messaging app that allows members to communicate with each other.  

How do you choose which team collaboration tool can help you implement your collaboration strategy? First, you need to look carefully at your team’s specific requirements. If you need an easy-to-use task-assigning tool, Asana would work well for your organisation. If you want an overview of how each team member is doing and the stage of a specific task, then Trello is an excellent option. 

Next, ensure the collaboration tool you choose is easy to use. If the tool is too hard to use or complicated, you and your team won’t use it, no matter how sophisticated or powerful the tool may be. Ensure that the tool you use is convenient and easy to learn so that it helps, not hinders, your team. 

Last, choose a cloud-based solution. While almost all available team collaboration tools are already cloud-based, it’s best to try your chosen tool out and ensure you can access it from anywhere. You want to ensure everything is saved automatically and any activity on the tool is visible and accessible to all team members. This is especially true for organisations with remote members.  

A Collaboration Strategy is Crucial 

Most organisations want their team members to work together effectively. However, some don’t realise that it takes more than wishing to make it happen. Collaboration must be ingrained in company culture, and a collaboration strategy must be in place. Without a collaboration strategy, the team members won’t be able to work together effectively. 

The management and leaders of an organisation must show employees and members that collaboration is essential to the company. This is done through modeling, offering opportunities to collaborate, and having access to team collaboration tools. Without these, an organisation will be unable to implement its collaboration strategy. 

Remember that effective collaboration does not happen overnight. Teamwork takes time and effort. For companies or organisations who are only just beginning to implement a collaboration strategy, don’t expect everyone to start collaborating immediately. It takes time, training and opportunity to get everyone on the same page when it comes to collaborating. 

Management and team leaders must emphasise the organisation’s collaboration strategy and show everyone that it’s essential to the company’s success. However, when a collaboration strategy is in place, and team members are on board, the results can be more than you might expect.  

The efforts of everyone will be multiplied when your team works together instead of as individuals. Follow our tips and suggestions above on how to implement a collaboration strategy, and we’re sure your organisation will start reaping the benefits of successful collaboration.  

Become a member of District32 and learn more ways to implement successful collaboration strategies. Learn more about memberships here 

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