How do you ensure successful team collaborations?
To help you foster successful team collaborations, we’ve gathered seventeen best practices from top professionals, including Managing Directors and founders. From fostering open communication and trust to setting clear goals and expectations, these leaders share their insights on how to ensure a collaborative and productive team environment.
- Foster Open Communication and Trust
- Provide a Collaboration Facilitator
- Promote Workplace Autonomy
- Structure Your Approach to Collaborations
- Develop a Detailed Project Plan
- Use Google Forms for Feedback
- Implement “The Listening Bridge”
- Apply the RACI Model
- Adopt the “Two-Pizza Rule”
- Draft a Pre-Contract
- Leverage the Right Digital Tools
- Clarify Workload and Expectations
- Put Collaboration Processes in Place
- Focus on the “Why” Behind the Project
- Align Around Shared Values and Goals
- Ask for Collaboration Preferences
- Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Foster Open Communication and Trust
To ensure successful team collaborations, I’ve found that actively fostering open communication and trust is essential. Picture it like a recipe: Communication is the base ingredient that binds the team’s efforts together, and trust acts as the seasoning that enhances the flavor of collaboration.
I encourage team members to express their ideas, concerns, and feedback freely, creating a safe space where everyone feels heard and respected. This open dialogue not only uncovers innovative solutions but also builds trust among team members, leading to a smoother collaboration process. Trust makes individuals more willing to rely on each other’s expertise and work harmoniously towards shared goals, ensuring that our collective efforts yield the best results.
Provide a Collaboration Facilitator
I lead a group of executive recruiters in a hybrid work structure, and successful team collaborations—in-office, WFH, or hybrid—boil down to clear communication and shared goals. Think of it like a dance—dances work best, especially between over two people, when they’re well-coordinated.
That’s where a “collaboration facilitator” comes in. I find it to be a best practice to have someone in this role, but it doesn’t have to be their only responsibility. This is a great job for someone on your team who excels at interpersonal dynamics. They make sure everyone’s voice is heard, encourage all sorts of viewpoints, and keep the team in harmony.
They guide discussions, making sure everyone knows the game plan, and smoothing out any bumps in the road. Their job is to keep things flowing smoothly, and they’re not afraid to promote good conflict to reach a place of mutual trust and psychological safety within the group.
Promote Workplace Autonomy
Being the founder of one of the largest four-day-workweek recruitment platforms, I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of successful team collaborations. One best practice I can wholeheartedly endorse is promoting workplace autonomy.
In today’s dynamic work landscape, autonomy allows team members to take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities. This autonomy isn’t about isolation, but rather empowering individuals to make decisions and contributions within the framework of the team’s objectives.
When team members have the freedom to decide how they approach their work, they tend to be more engaged and innovative. It fosters an environment where they can tap into their unique skills and creativity, contributing their best to the team’s success.
Structure Your Approach to Collaborations
In our industry, our projects sink or swim based on the creative idea or concept. Creating that initial concept is often a team effort, but in our experience, we’ve found that creating a structure for collaborations always provides the best outcomes.
While freewheeling discussions and brainstorming can work, we prefer a methodical approach that creates a cohesive experience for our team and also yields more innovative ideas. The practice is simple. Team members have two minutes to silently work through a word-association exercise based on the core requirement from the client. This provides us with a diverse word cloud to pick from.
As a team, we draw connections between various words to create strong core messages or innovative ideas. Finally, we ask each team member to contribute a number of personal and left-of-field topics or themes that develop the core idea into something unexpected. Sticking to a simple and timed structure creates a robust framework for collaborative ideation.
Develop a Detailed Project Plan
To guarantee fruitful team collaborations, it is advisable to establish unambiguous objectives and expectations. It is essential that every team member in the pool installation and real estate industries is aware of their specific duties and obligations when tackling complex projects. Develop a meticulously detailed project plan that explicitly delineates milestones, deadlines, and individual contributions.
Additionally, promote regular check-ins and transparent communication to ensure that all parties are aligned, and that progress is effectively monitored. This clarity functions to prevent misinterpretations and maintains the team’s concentration on a shared objective. Effective team collaboration is predicated on a collective comprehension of goals and obligations, which results in more seamless project implementation and more robust deliverables.
Use Google Forms for Feedback
I believe successful team collaboration stands on the foundation of open communication and transparency. When each team member feels heard and valued, their efforts towards the goal automatically increase.
In hybrid teams like ours, we often jump on quick, high-productivity meetings where we may not be able to give everyone the chance to state their opinion. So, for such brief meetings, we prefer sharing a Google form at the end of the meeting where the members can drop their opinions and suggestions. The responses get directly registered in a Google sheet that we can then review and assess at our own pace. The sheet that registers the responses can be viewed by all the team members, along with the name of the person who gave the answer.
We found this method to be more productive, comfortable, and encouraging at the same time. It especially works great for team members who aren’t that comfortable with public speaking and avoid voicing their ideas and opinions.
Implement “The Listening Bridge”
In my experience, fostering successful team collaborations involves what I call “The Listening Bridge.” It’s all about active and empathetic listening. When team members feel heard and valued, it creates a strong foundation for effective collaboration.
I encourage open dialogue and ensure that everyone’s opinions, and ideas are genuinely considered. This not only boosts team morale but also leads to more innovative and well-rounded solutions to challenges. “The Listening Bridge” helps to bridge the gap between different perspectives and ensures that every team member feels like an integral part of the collective effort, ultimately driving the success of our collaborative projects.
Apply the RACI Model
One unique approach I’ve used to ensure successful team collaboration is the RACI model (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed). This framework clearly defines roles and responsibilities within the team, ensuring everyone knows what they’re responsible for and who they need to consult or inform about their work. It helps avoid confusion and overlap, leading to more efficient collaborations.
Implementing this model requires careful planning and communication, but I assure you, it can significantly improve team dynamics.
Adopt the “Two-Pizza Rule”
Adopt the two-pizza rule—a concept popularized by Jeff Bezos. If two pizzas aren’t enough to feed a team, the team is too big. Keeping teams small and agile ensures that communication is more effective, responsibilities are clear, and decision-making is quicker.
In smaller groups, every member feels a greater sense of ownership and accountability, fostering both creativity and efficiency. Remember, the strength of a team doesn’t necessarily come from its size, but from its synergy.
Draft a Pre-Contract
One best practice for team collaboration that I would recommend is to have a pre-contract in place. This can then act as the cornerstone for successful team dynamics.
I find that when you set out a framework like this, team members feel much more free to express their ideas and contribute without fear of judgment, as everyone feels valued and connected.
You can outline the shared purpose of the project and the team’s goals and values. By doing so, it inspires a collective mindset shift, as team members no longer view themselves as just task performers but as active contributors to a common mission.
Having a pre-contract cultivates a sense of responsibility and commitment, driving the team towards achieving better results. Knowing the team’s purpose is integral, and a thoughtfully crafted pre-contract serves as the compass for agile, collaborative success.
Leverage the Right Digital Tools
In today’s digital world, collaboration isn’t possible without technology. Most teams are working in a hybrid environment, so you need a tool that can ease communication between remote and in-office workers. An instant messaging app can do that for you.
When your teams can communicate easily, they can work in tandem with each other. Creativity flows freely. Teams think outside the box and are able to come up with unique solutions.
Clarify Workload and Expectations
My top tip is to take the time at the start of the collaboration to clarify the workload and expectations for each member of the team. In my experience, the biggest enemy of successful collaboration is a lack of clarity in communication. This doesn’t always mean people aren’t interacting, but often that they’re speaking past each other and not on the same page.
When everyone on the team knows exactly what they should work on, when it needs to be completed, and what function or role that work will serve in the context of the larger project, you dramatically increase your odds of achieving a successful collaboration.
Put Collaboration Processes in Place
It’s all about your processes! Collaboration works best when you have processes in place to allow your team to collaborate freely, ensuring that whatever the collaboration is, it ties back to the work or the betterment of the broader goals of your organization.
Focus on the “Why” Behind the Project
Successful team collaboration isn’t about fancy tools or buzzwords; it’s about clear communication. The best practice is to create an environment where everyone on the team feels heard, valued, and free to voice their ideas and opinions.
In order to achieve that, we have to cut the fluff and focus on the fundamentals. Success will come from making sure everyone on your team understands the “why” behind a project or a piece of work. When the purpose is clear, collaboration becomes natural.
Don’t overlook the power of trust. Building strong relationships within your team is the secret sauce of successful collaboration. Trust begets transparency, and together, they fuel outstanding teamwork.
Align Around Shared Values and Goals
To ensure the success of our firm’s team collaborations, we constantly remind and reinforce our staff of our core value: keeping our clients front of mind in all that we do.
With everyone working toward a common goal, we know we are aligned in taking a client-centered approach that delivers the best possible outcomes for our clients. Our team is intrinsically motivated by the strong sense of purpose that comes with our work, and our shared values and motivation mean each team member can confidently rely on their colleagues—trusting that everyone will bring their best to provide an outstanding, client-focused legal service.
Ask for Collaboration Preferences
Not enough managers are simply asking their team how they prefer to collaborate. Not everyone is comfortable in a group setting, but there are certainly ways to make it better if you just ask them what they like.
Sometimes, it means having a more open office setting or increasing the amount of online team-collaboration opportunities. Feedback is essential if you want to increase team connections, so asking each person one-on-one gives you a much better idea of how you can make it a successful venture.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Collaboration is all about working toward a common goal or objective. To ensure successful team collaborations, it’s important to set clear, well-defined goals from the start.
This will help everyone on the team understand what needs to be achieved and how their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture. Additionally, setting expectations for each team member’s responsibilities, deadlines, and communication methods can help avoid confusion and maximize productivity.
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