Collaboration is the art of people working together to achieve a common goal. It isn’t just about teamwork, but also about maximizing each member's unique expertise. And when you collaborate in the workplace, you boost team productivity.
Over the last few years, I've been focused on building three purpose-driven startups, and I've seen the power and importance of collaboration among teams time and time again. It offers different perspectives, advice and energy to keep a company growing. Collaborating can mean the difference between a good idea and great execution. It gives your team access to a wealth of ideas, resources and connections that can help you get started or grow your business in new ways.
According to a 2022 workplace survey, 75% of employees believe team cooperation is crucial to the company’s success. Interestingly, the same study found that 40% of the employees think their workplace lacks collaboration. As a leader, you must fix this disconnect. Collaboration at work is the key to unleashing the full potential of your employees. You need to build a cohesive team that pools their resources and builds on each others’ expertise.
Here is a comprehensive guide to collaboration skills and how to foster them in your organization.
What are Collaboration Skills?
Collaborative skills are the soft skills that enable people to work together as a team. They help you build strong relationships, work on complex situations, and make decisions that drive collective growth. The stronger the team’s collaborative skills, the better it performs. Here are some essential collaborative skills:
- Transparent communication
When a company is fully transparent in its communication, employees are able to collaborate and work together more effectively. Focus levels increase, leading to greater productivity and fewer information swaps within the team.
- Flexible mind
Flexible thinking allows you to consider different ways of approaching the same situation. When your team is open to hearing diverse ideas, they’ll develop innovative solutions to effectively move towards the company’s goal.
When employees are able to relate to how their colleagues feel, it helps them improve the team's overall efficiency. Due to empathic communication team members feel for each other helps create an environment of collaboration and respect.
How to Build Collaborative Skills?
Leaders should foster collaborative skills in their teams to create a growth-oriented work environment. A team that collaborates well is more likely to deliver innovative results and create new opportunities for growth. Here are the four best ways to develop collaborative skills at the workplace:
- Encourage clear communication: When you use ambiguous language at the workplace, it can be confusing and detrimental to productivity. Each person on your team will have unique views and biases; they might misinterpret your words if you don’t communicate clearly. That’s why you must give clear instructions without resorting to jargon.
- Push your team beyond their comfort zone: Challenge your team with difficult projects. This will encourage them to grow and help you and your organization become better versions of yourselves. It will also strengthen the team’s collaboration as they navigate the choppy waters together.
- Create a mutual learning environment: Encourage your employees to share their knowledge with others. This way, they can move past the obstacles faster and achieve quicker results. Just be sure to make sure that you set guidelines as to what they can share in order to avoid any security risks.
- Practice civil discourse: Civil discourse provides a safe space for your team to freely share their views without fearing judgment. People are more likely to say what they think, when they are not afraid of getting in trouble or being belittled. Civil discourse creates a sense of openness and encourages people to speak up.
Core Collaboration Skills to Develop
In a world where the best innovation is happening in collaboration, collaboration is the new imperative. It may be the only way to accelerate innovation, improve agility, increase adaptability and cut costs all at once. But building a collaborative culture is not always an easy transformation for the traditionally independent entrepreneur.
I’ve had to learn to trust the abilities of others to execute on my vision, and I’ve found that the true power of collaboration lies in how well you communicate. Open communication is the key to fostering true workplace collaboration.
Here are the four criteria you must meet to achieve this:
- Encourage your employees to listen actively. Focus on what the other person is saying rather than waiting for your turn to speak. Strive to understand the underlying intent in people’s speech. Ask questions if something isn’t clear.
- Hone your written communication skills. Your writing should be clear and concise and convey your intended message. It should be comprehensive, tie up loose ends, and leave the reader with clear takeaways.
- Improve your verbal communication. Use descriptive language that every team member can grasp. Frame your sentences in a way that doesn’t make you sound confrontational.
- Polish your nonverbal communication skills. What you say is as important as how you say it. Your body language, gestures, tone, and facial expressions speak louder than words. Maintain eye contact while speaking, keep your tone polite, and nod on points you agree with.
If we want to succeed in business, and in life, we must all collaborate. It’s a big part of how we work today. But it’s important to evaluate how you and your people collaborate on a regular basis.
It’s not enough to simply hire talented individuals. As a leader, you must build a collaborative team that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Each member must align their efforts to achieve the collective goal. Honing your communication skills is the key to fostering collaboration. You need to put conscious effort into adapting it to your demeanor.