Getting your team to collaborate and work together more cohesively and effectively is a goal you shouldn’t ignore. After all, research finds that successful collaboration in the workplace can lead to numerous business benefits, including increasing innovation by up to 15% and speeding up product launches by 20%.
We asked business owners what they’ve done to improve collaboration among their teams. Here’s how they responded:
Create a culture committee
One of the ways we’ve encouraged our team to collaborate, build camaraderie and feel invested in the company is by creating a “culture committee.” The committee acts as a main source of inspiration and feedback for different ways to live out our company culture and increase employee engagement. The culture committee is comprised of non-executive representatives from each department. Given that we’re a vertically integrated company with so many different and diverse functions, it was important for each department to be represented. The culture committee is empowered to come up with and execute different initiatives, events and ideas to build upon our beliefs and values.
—Abhi Lokesh, co-founder and CEO, Fracture, Gainesville, Florida
Set team expectations and roles
As an experience design company, our work is highly collaborative. We list collaboration as a key company value and actually call our employee handbook the “Collaborator’s Handbook.” So naturally, we do many things to facilitate better teamwork. Before each project, we organize a social event for the team to meet casually as well as encourage socializing activities such as collaborative games. Then, in our first team meeting for every project, we spend a lot of time discussing each person’s role on the team, what they need support with and their best and worst team experiences. We use this discussion to make everyone aware of who to contact when they need particular things done, but also to remind them that we’re all here together because nobody can do everything alone. We also use this as an opportunity to build “team norms” and behavioral expectations of each other to hold everyone accountable to terms that we have all collectively built and agreed upon.
—Anahita Dalmia, CEO, Alterea, Los Angeles
Use the right collaboration tools
As a startup, collaboration is vital, as things move quickly and processes are still being formed and ironed out. Our team has found tons of success by using two key collaboration tools: Slack and Monday.com. Slack is wonderful for organizing conversations and cross-departmental discussions and getting questions answered quickly. Monday has been crucial for project management and assigning tasks. Collaboration will also come naturally out of a positive and encouraging company culture. When a team knows that their ideas and voices are important, they’re more willing to pitch ideas, help others with theirs and work as a team to make them happen.
—Ryan Bonifacino, co-founder and president, Great Heights, Stamford, Connecticut
Encourage staff bonding
The bedrock of our collaboration and teamwork efforts is in getting our staff to know each other through a variety of means. If we know each other even just a bit, we are more likely to like each other and want to work together. As the boss, I encourage staff to have informal conversations about what’s going on in their lives—both informally and during meetings. I ask questions during meetings to encourage my staff to talk about non-work topics. As long as we keep it light, folks stay interested. We talk about vacations, pets, children, weekends, movies and TV shows. We stay away from politics and religion. Sometimes the topics get serious, when there’s an illness, for example. Even in those cases, staff has learned to be empathetic and helpful, to the extent they can.
—Barry Moline, executive director, California Municipal Utilities Association, Sacramento, California
What have you done to help your team collaborate more effectively? Share your insights in the comments section below!
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