The Ultimate Guide to Developing Your Collaboration Strategy
A collaboration strategy is perhaps the most important thing any business leader can invest in. After all, good collaboration is what separates the most successful brands from their competitors. When teams can communicate, and work together well on synchronized goals, the whole business thrives.
Studies show 86% of thought leaders believe a lack of collaboration is what causes the majority of failures in the workplace. However, when companies invest fully in helping their teams to collaborate, they achieve incredible results. One report by Deloitte found the efficiency of employees increases by an average of 15%, when they operate in a collaborative environment.
Unfortunately, figuring out how to develop a strategy for effective communication and collaboration can be more challenging than it seems. Keeping your employees aligned and unified in a world of hybrid and remote work, globalization, and evolving work practices can be extremely complex.
Today, we’re going to help you overcome the challenges of ensuring good collaboration, with a selection of tips, steps, and expert guidance.
Table of Contents
What is a Collaboration Strategy?
Developing a “collaboration strategy” is how business leaders can ensure they’re constantly taking steps to effectively unify the workforce. Collaboration strategies are essentially guidelines for better, more team-focused working practices. They may involve concrete guidelines, outlining exactly which tools and resources employees should use when they collaborate.
A collaboration strategy could also involve tips for both employees and supervisors, on how to preserve company culture, and create a collaborative environment .
The important thing for businesses to remember is there’s no one-size-fits-all method for building a collaboration strategy. The best solutions are developed based on an understanding of your employees, their communication methods, and their specific needs.
Additionally, collaboration strategies aren’t necessarily set in stone. As new technologies and workflows emerge in any business, the collaboration methods used by each team may vary. For instance, following the pandemic, many companies began switching in-person meetings out for video conferencing sessions and messaging apps.
Just like your business, your collaboration strategy is a dynamic concept, which can evolve and change to suit your transforming brand.
The Benefits of an Enterprise Collaboration Strategy
So, why develop an enterprise collaboration strategy in the first place? The simple answer is that showing your team how to collaborate effectively, improves your business performance. Studies have shown collaborative teams deliver five times higher performance levels than their counterparts.
Additionally, research has also shown collaboration is one of the core components of a good company culture. Around 75% of employees say they think teamwork and collaboration is essential. The right collaboration strategy may help you to not only retain existing employees, but also attract new talent when your team begins to grow. With a collaboration strategy, businesses can:
- Increase employee engagement: At the heart of collaboration , is a desire to connect people around consistent shared goals and objectives. When teams feel they’re working together towards the same outcomes, they’re more likely to be engaged and invested in their work. Additionally, collaboration helps to improve relationships between employees, which can further improve your chances of talent retention and engagement.
- Improved productivity: Two heads are better than one. Bringing multiple members of staff together on a project means they can share their expertise, insights, and perspectives more effectively. Collaboration makes it easier for teams to solve complex problems, and even come up with more creative solutions to a range of issues.
- Enhanced company culture: According to Deloitte , people who have access to the right tools and strategies for collaboration are 17% more likely to feel satisfied with the culture of the company. They’re also 22% more likely to believe their employer cares about their morale, engagement levels, and experience.
How to Develop a Strong Collaboration Strategy
While good collaboration is crucial in any business, it’s not always easy to create an effective strategy. It takes a concentrated effort to ensure you’re consistently integrating cooperative values into your company culture. Fortunately, there are some tips you can use to make both collaboration and communication more efficient in your workplace.
Step 1: Champion the Company Mission
Good collaboration starts with getting everyone on the same page. All of the members of your team should understand exactly what the purpose of your business is, and what you’re striving to accomplish. Sharing and championing the company mission regularly ensures your team members have a shared sense of purpose. This not only improves collaboration, but it can lead to better employee retention and engagement too.
Keep your mission simple, compelling, and connected to the values of your team members. Ask yourself what will encourage your team members to keep showing up to work each day (aside from earning a paycheck). For instance, your mission could be to innovate and create the most powerful software for the accounting space, or help consumers overcome common problems in their day-to-day lives. Once you have your mission, make sure all of your employees know it.
Step 2: Set Expectations
Setting expectations is important in any business, particularly if you’re going to be working with remote and hybrid employees . When you set expectations, you tell your employees exactly what you want from them in terms of consistent communication and collaboration.
For instance, you could let your team members know that you expect all of them to be present for group video meetings, and that they should always keep track of the messages they receive from their teams. However, you may also tell them there will be “voluntary” collaborative sessions they can choose to take part in or not.
Outlining what’s expected from each employee in terms of collaboration when you bring them into your team can be a good start. When you’re sharing job descriptions with team members, highlight which tasks they’ll be expected to complete on their own, and what they should do collaboratively.
Step 3: Set and Communicate Clear Goals
Similar to having a shared mission, having specific goals or targets to work towards helps to motivate your employees, and keep them all on the same page. Alongside your overarching “goal”, for the business, you should also be setting smaller, short-term goals for teams to work towards.
The best way to make sure everyone feels invested in the goals you set, is to create them as a team. Invest in morning huddles and sessions where teams can come together and discuss what their priorities should be on a regular basis.
Giving your employees to keep track of their progress towards goals can be helpful too. For instance, you may use productivity apps to assist your employees in monitoring their performance, upcoming deadlines, and tasks.
Step 4: Promote a Sense of Community
We’re more likely to collaborate with people we feel comfortable around. Any great business is made up of a variety of diverse personalities and individuals. However, it’s important for business leaders to foster a connection between each member of staff, so everyone feels like part of the same team.
According to 54% of employees , a strong sense of community spirit is what encourages them to stay with their employer. With that in mind, it’s worth thinking of ways you can implement bonding moments for your teams. You don’t have to force everyone to get together for group lunches every day, but encouraging people to connect and communicate, even with a simple informal chat room could be an excellent way to start.
You might even consider looking into team building exercises, group charity work, or corporate sports teams. The more opportunities your employees have to get to know each other, the more they’ll feel like part of the same consistent community.
Step 5: Foster Open and Honest Communication
A unified communications and collaboration strategy is often one of the best ways to build an effective team. You can’t have good collaboration before first investing in a way for your team members to consistently communicate. Team members need to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions, and ideas in a range of different formats.
In a world where many employees are now located outside of the standard office environment, it’s not enough to rely on face-to-face conversations. You’ll also need to ensure you’re providing your teams with a number of different ways to communicate. A messaging app will be a good way to encourage more introverted team members in any environment to take part in conversations.
When you need more emotional, immersive communication experiences, you can experiment with things like video and audio conferences. On all communication channels, make sure open, honest, and creative discussions are encouraged. Never berate someone for speaking their mind.
Step 6: Lead by Example
Employees in all businesses look to their leaders for guidance on how to behave. With this in mind, it’s important for every company to ensure their leaders, managers, and supervisors are constantly committed to prioritizing collaboration. Leaders of collaborative teams should be constantly encouraging their staff members to speak up and get involved in conversations.
It may also be worth regularly investing time into one-on-one discussions with employees, so you can learn more about their working and communication styles , preferences, and needs. You can also host group discussions, with ice-breaker sessions to encourage everyone to start talking.
Remember, the way you deal with other members of staff will rub off on your employees. For instance, if you’re constantly micro-managing team members and pushing them to do things your way, they’ll be less likely to take the iniatitive and follow the insights of their colleagues.
Step 7: Share Resources and Knowledge
Few things disrupt collaboration more than knowledge silos. If the people in your marketing team are the only ones with access to your user personas and marketing strategies, they’re unlikely to work with anyone outside of their group when they’re building new campaigns. If sales people are the guardians of all the knowledge you have about your leads, they may not know what they can share with others.
Simply creating an open environment for knowledge sharing can help to break down some of the walls in your organization. Everyone should feel like they’re able to access the same information and resources. Additionally, business leaders should ensure they treat every team with the same level of transparency.
It’s also a good idea to promote cross-team collaboration, by asking members of different groups to get together regularly to discuss campaigns, business goals and opportunities. Avoid creating an environment where everyone on your team believes they belong to a specific segmented group.
Step 8: Celebrate and Reward Teamwork
If you want to ensure your employees commit to consistently collaborating and communicating freely, you need to ensure you’re rewarding the people who show these skills. Drawing attention to the rewards of successful teamwork means more of your employees will feel motivated to branch out and connect with other members of staff.
When you’re designing strategies to deliver employee feedback and rewards, think about how you can prioritize your focus on communication and collaboration. For instance, you could have a “best teamwork” reward delivered to a group of people at the end of each month.
You could also let your employees know you’re going to be monitoring and evaluating their collaboration abilities when you’re assessing their individual work. Provide assessments based not just on what employees are doing individually, but also on how they behave in team environments.
Step 9: Invest in Collaboration Tools
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure collaboration becomes a consistent part of your business culture, is to invest in collaboration tools that empower your team members. Today, around 80% of businesses are relying on social collab oration tools to help improve business processes.
Collaboration platforms like Brosix can help you to connect all of the distributed members of your team securely and effectively. Brosix provides all the tools business leaders need to synchronize teams, from business-wide notifications, to encrypted messaging and video chat.
They provide you with the tools you need to strengthen communication through video, audio, and messaging strategies. Plus, they offer a safe environment for sharing knowledge, assigning tasks, and monitoring progress.
The right collaboration tools will give your team members an all-in-one environment where they can connect with their peers, build professional relationships, and share knowledge freely.
Step 10: Ask for and Use Feedback
Finally, one of the best ways to make sure your collaboration strategy is successful, is to take advantage of the feedback and insights you can gather from your employees. No-one is going to be better at telling you what your team needs to collaborate better than your staff members themselves. With this in mind, look for ways to cultivate useful feedback from each employee.
Ask your staff members what you can do to make collaboration easier, and what challenges they face when they try to collaborate and connect with other employees. You can also use feedback from your employees to learn more about their different working strategies.
This can give you an insight into which employees are most likely to work together well when you’re creating cross-departmental teams for new projects. As you gather feedback, make sure you’re actively responding to the suggestions your team members make. Responding to feedback shows your employees you respect their input and ideas.
3 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Collaboration Strategy
On the surface, building a collaboration strategy seems like a relatively straightforward process. If you use the tips above, you should be able to start developing an environment where your employees can work efficiently, and productively together. However, it’s worth looking out for a few core problems that can get in the way of good collaboration too.
Here are three of the most problematic mistakes you can make when developing a strategy for collaboration in your enterprise:
- Using the wrong collaboration tools: A good collaboration platform is one of the most powerful tools you’ll have for ensuring effective teamwork. However, many companies still make the mistake of encouraging their employees to use numerous disconnected tools across different platforms. The more channels and systems employees use to communicate, the more knowledge gaps will appear. Focus on using an end-to-end collaboration platform with everything your employees need for messaging, video, and voice.
- Hosting too many meetings: Conferences and meetings are often among the most valuable tools you have for collaboration. However, too many meetings can actually get in the way of productivity. Make sure every meeting you host has a specific purpose. If employees don’t need to attend every meeting, give them the option to opt-in or out of taking part. Avoid overwhelming your staff with endless mandatory meetings which may not be relevant to them, and use agendas to keep everyone on track.
- Underestimating the value of transparency: Collaboration is so much harder when employees don’t trust their leaders and other team members. To create a truly collaborative environment, you’ll need to ensure you’re sharing information and insights as transparently as possible. Avoid keeping information to yourself or only sharing it with a handful of people. If you need to share important information, consider hosting a video meeting, or sending a broadcast message to all of your staff members at once.
Start Working on Your Collaboration Strategy
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, which industry you’re in, or how many team members you have. Your organization can’t thrive without access to the right collaborative strategy. Ultimately, no matter what you do, you’ll always find your company works better and produces improved results when people can work cohesively together.
When employees can work together in tandem, regardless of what their role may be or where they are in the world, companies thrive. Investing in the right strategy for collaboration, by implementing the right tools and policies will ensure you create a more lucrative, effective workplace.
Don’t underestimate the power of collaboration.