There has perhaps never been a time where effective team collaboration has been so important.
Large, complex projects, remote workforces, and huge generation gaps within teams all make for a pretty difficult task ahead.
The challenge for project managers is that we rely on our team to get work done on time, on budget, and on spec. And when workplace collaboration goes down the drain, so do our projects.
So, what makes for good workplace collaboration, and how can you improve it, starting today?
That’s exactly what this article is here to show you.
What makes good collaboration?
Let’s face it:
Effective collaboration can be tough.
What makes things more difficult is the fact that everyone has a different idea of what makes good collaboration.
There are, however, a few cornerstones of successful collaboration that should be a part of every team’s definition.
If you can’t communicate well, you can’t collaborate well.
The first thing all team members need to understand is the communication starts with the prefix ‘co,’ which means jointly, or together, implying that strong communication is a 2-way street.
Yes, that means actively listening to your colleagues, and not just listening to respond, but listening to understand.
Strong communication and collaboration skills also involve the ability to communicate your thoughts clearly, without ambiguity, and with diplomacy.
That’s a pretty tall order, so don’t rule out the need for communications training across the whole team.
An engaged team
Employee engagement is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, and it essentially boils down to this:
How much do your employees care about the work they do daily?
It’s true that many employees are only in it for the paycheck, meaning they’re not overly invested in the success of their work, your projects, and your company as a whole.
That doesn’t spell successful collaboration.
Disengaged employees are more concerned with their own tasks than with working together tightly as a team, and only 34% of employees rate themselves as ‘engaged’ at work.
So, how do you keep employee engagement up?
Start by obtaining employee feedback and determining the current state of engagement, aim to understand what keeps your team members engaged, and put your focus there. And don’t be afraid to run a team-building session or two.
A bit of compromise
Team collaboration means working with other team members who might have different priorities, due dates, and responsibilities.
Sometimes, it takes a bit of compromise to keep the wheels turning smoothly.
This can even include the need for compromise between managers and employees, such as reassigning tasks that certain team members are not going to be able to complete on time.
What spells success for you and your team?
Team leaders should be explicitly clear on the goals they’ve set for their team, which should include long-term goals as well as daily achievements that can be recognized and praised accordingly (which helps to improve employee engagement).
Setting clear goals requires 2 stages:
The first is clarity at the manager level, with a shared understanding between all leaders as to what the team goals are and what they mean.
The second component is communicating those goals to your team, and helping them to understand how their actions impact the achievement of said goals.
Accountability and reliability
Accountability within a team means that every team member owns their own tasks and is wholly responsible for their success (or otherwise).
As a team leader, you don’t want a team of employees who can’t be held accountable for their work, as any shortcomings will inevitably fall upon you.
Which leads us to reliability.
Reliable team members show up when they are meant to, hand in projects when they are meant to, and have your back when they are meant to.
This is crucial not only for project managers but for each member of the team.
Team collaboration relies on having a team of reliable members who get their part done without holding others back.
Well-developed (and communicated) processes
Just as important as well-communicated goals is the need for processes that are created with purpose and actually communicated to team members.
Having a well-developed process in place ensures that team members will complete work to a given standard, won’t cut corners, and won’t miss out on any important steps.
This allows managers to give their employees a bit more autonomy and control over their workloads while still ensuring work is up to standard.Of course, a process is only as good as it is understood, so make sure to dedicate some time to process training to make sure you’re all on the same page.
Modern tools to help you get the job done
Assuming you’ve nailed the previous 6 points, there’s just 1 last piece to the puzzle:
A decent team collaboration software tool.
Modern team collaboration often means working together remotely, whether that be from the comfort of a home office or from the other side of the world.
As such, successful team collaboration tends to take place online.
Even teams that are working together in the same office require a single point of truth for all project and task management, reporting, and communications.
So, what is the best team collaboration tool?
5 tools to level up your team collaboration
monday.com is the project management app that will ensure the success of your collaborative team.
Built to serve people — rather than to manage resources — monday.com makes teamwork click.
monday.com users have access to 8+ different project management views, over 70 integrations with your favorite tools, and some seriously smart automation capabilities which eliminate the need for manual grunt work and let your team stay in the action.
Here’s just a taste of what you’ll find in our collaboration solution:
- Task-specific collaboration with work taking place within the task board itself
- Time-tracking capabilities for accurate invoicing and a greater understanding of what your team is spending time on
- Upload and share files from within the platform — no more searching for that lost document
- Assign tasks and instantly notify team members
- Message team members directly within tasks for maximum context
- A comprehensive search function that searches everything
- Over a hundred pre-built templates, allowing your team to get up and running straight away
- 20 status colors for color-coding tasks
- 2-factor authentication gives teamwork the security it needs
- Advanced board sharing capabilities with individual permissions sets — ideal for sharing with freelancers or external stakeholders
- Intuitive reporting and dashboards
- Customizable notifications to your email inbox
- iOS and Android apps for on-the-go teamwork
- So much more!
With monday.com, you can tick off all 6 tenets of good collaboration.
Our advanced reporting suite allows managers to set clear team goals, report on them in real-time, and hold team members accountable for their work.
Managers can clearly communicate project timelines using Gantt charts and inspire team engagement by adding them to each task or project they are responsible for.
Slack is a team communication tool based primarily around instant messaging.
It may not be a fully-fledged team collaboration solution, but it should definitely be a part of your tech stack if you have a remote team.
With Slack, team members can message anyone on their team instantly, from their desktop or mobile device, and even share documents and links.
Team leaders can create groups — known as channels — or hashtags in Slack for contextual communication, and you can even set up private groups for a quick group conversation.
Remote workers can take advantage of Slack’s video conferencing and calling capabilities when typing out a series of long messages just isn’t going to cut it — making for effective communication at a distance and keeping remote work simple.
If you’re working with B2B clients, then it’s easy to invite them to Slack channels to keep your communication in one place and avoid email jail.
Can’t remember exactly what your teammate was on about? Slack’s search function allows you to pore through a channel or your entire Slack history and find out precisely what was said.
It’s a pretty widely used tool, so you’ll find that most of your other online collaboration tools will have created a neat little integration for you.
Even we have one. See?
Whether your entire team is working from afar, or you just have a few remote employees, a time tracking tool is going to be essential to managing and monitoring collaborative work.
Toggl Track is one such tool, allowing individual team members to easily track how much time they’re spending on a given task.
Here’s how it works:
- Team members download and install the desktop or mobile app or find the right browser extension for them
- Hit the go button to start tracking a task, and hit stop when you’ve completed it
- All of your entries sync automatically and are saved in a single location; no more post-it notes and complex spreadsheets
One awesome feature that Toggl Track offers is a Background Tracking function, which automatically starts tracking how long you spend in an app or website if you spend more than 10 seconds in it.
You can later turn that data into time entries.
Other features of Toggl Track include:
- Tracking extensions for Gmail, Asana, and Zendesk
- One-click timers
- A calendar app and integration
- 100+ other integrations
- Summary and detailed reports along with regular, scheduled reporting sends
Toggl Track is a super handy remote team collaboration app and is ideal for those charging their clients on an hourly basis or anyone looking to dive deep into task performance and productivity.
Even if you have at your disposal the best project management tool out there (you know, the one we mentioned at the top of this section), you’re still going to need to find a way to get your project team together for team meetings, updates, briefs, and team building events.
Collaborative tools like GoToMeeting, and online video conferencing software, are your best friend for times like these.
GoToMeeting offers everything you’d expect from a capable, professional video conferencing tool, such as:
- Scheduled meetings
- Video and voice call conferencing
- Mobile apps
- Meeting recording and transcription
- Drawing tools
- Integrations with Google Calendar, Slack, Salesforce, and Microsoft Teams
Video is often the best way to collaborate on complex tasks and project planning, so make sure you’ve got yourself a good video conferencing tool if you want to maximize team collaboration.
A suite of tools formerly known as GSuite, Google Workspace is ideal for cross-team collaboration because it offers many of the tools you’ll need to improve communication.
In Google Workspace, you get access to:
Docs is an online document editing tool — like Microsoft Word but from Google — allowing teams to collaborate and even create an online knowledge base by saving multiple documents in Drive.
Google Meet is a video conferencing tool, ideal for team building sessions or regular team meetings.
Calendar is, well, a calendar tool, and you’ve probably heard of Gmail, so no need to spell that one out for you.
The big benefit that Google Workspace has to offer is that it’s a whole host of tools in a single platform. Oh, and they have integrations with pretty much every other collaboration platform out there.
Whether you’re building a deeply cross-functional team or simply looking to improve workplace collaboration among a small team, you’re going to need an effective team collaboration software platform.
So, why not get straight into the action?
Check out our team task management template here.