The most successful work environments are those where collaboration is facilitated among team members to improve productivity. Productive collaboration promotes out of the box thinking, improves employee retention, and helps discover viable solutions to long-standing company-wide problems. When teammates and colleagues are able to work together to achieve common goals, amazing things can happen.
In order to facilitate this type of interaction, you need to keep three main points in mind: (1) communicate with empathy (2) build trust among the team (3) visually document ideas and progress.
Showing empathy is the act of acknowledging and understanding the perspective of another person. When empathetic communication is opened up in the workplace, employees feel as if their opinions are valued and matter in the grand scope of the company. It helps them to feel safe opening up and participating genuinely in difficult conversations.
As the team leader, your job is to facilitate trust among the team. You can shine a light on your team’s dynamics by completing the DiSC Wiley assessment. This assessment identifies each person’s strong and weak traits as well as their preferred style of communication. Once you illuminate how each person’s methodology and comfort levels are different and accepted, you can build empathy among the team and encourage them to collaborate safely and openly. You can also empower team leaders by encouraging them to read Dare to Lead and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The wisdom will teach them how to become better facilitators of productive collaboration.
When it comes to the meeting, you will want to document and share a predictable meeting agenda outline and start the meeting with expectations such as:
- Rumbling is good- We agree to disagree and respect each other
- Consider the trade off’s before saying “yes” to ideas
- Self-learning and exploration is encouraged
- All questions and ideas are welcome as they spark other thoughts
- Documents will be editable by all those on the collaboration team
And finally, you will want to annotate all ideas and progress into a visually shared document. I recommend using an online collaboration software. As the cliche goes, “seeing is believing”. The visual annotation done during the meeting will build trust as it acknowledges validity of each person’s ideas and progress. The annotation also allows team members to think and buy-in to the ideas presented at their own pace, whether it is during the meeting or afterwards.
A productive workplace needs to more than a group of individuals working in the same office. Beneficial things happen when team members are encouraged to come together and contribute their unique talents to the group, including:
- Increased productivity
- Higher-level, creative thinking
- Innovation in the workplace
- Employee retention
- Creation of a positive, inclusive company culture
- Effortless buy-in from staff
Next Steps – Apply This Knowledge
Select a collaboration software. I like Asana, while others use one of the many project management software programs listed here.
Follow this Question-Bursting technique to spark the collaborative process and build trust among the team.
Either do the DiSC and/or read words of wisdom by great authors.
Reflect and Prioritize
Trust is the building block of productive collaboration. A team must be shown that their opinion is heard and valued for them to partake in the collaborative process and feel engaged. It is truly amazing when you experience the benefits of having empathy, building trust, and productive collaboration. If nothing else, you will have ah-ha moments that remind you why you wanted to build a thriving business with a great team to carry it into the future. So, if you seek success, prioritize this effort to productively collaborate and as always, good luck!