Greater efficiency, knowledge sharing and more opportunities to learn are just a few reasons why team collaboration in the workplace is such a good thing. Here, we explore why working as a team is vital to success – and the basics of doing it well.
“Are you a good team player?”
It’s a question that’s ubiquitous in job ads and interviews. Not surprisingly, as the value of team collaboration in the workplace is increasingly being recognized by organizations and employees alike.
In fact, cross-functional teamwork may even be replacing traditional, top-down ways of working: 32% of the HR and business leaders who responded to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey said they are now designing their organization to be more team-centric – and only 14% still believe that the old hierarchical way of working makes their organization highly effective.
But what is it exactly that makes team collaboration so important?
Life without collaboration
Maybe a good way to see the value of collaboration is to imagine what a workplace would be like without it.
People would work in silos, unsupported and unengaged with the organization. There would be little consistency, both in terms of processes and results. Efficiency and productivity would suffer as tasks and processes were duplicated unnecessarily. And – perhaps even more importantly – huge amounts of knowledge and experience-based learning would be lost.
Ways to work better as a team
Effective team collaboration can address all these issues – facilitating the sharing of knowledge, learning and resources, helping boost productivity and efficiency and enabling organizations to tap into the talents of all their employees.
But simply having a team-centric structure in your organization doesn’t mean people will work well together. For teams to really collaborate, it’s important to provide the environment and tools that allow them to flourish.
The basics of successful team collaboration include:
Boundaries – Psychologist and team dynamics expert, J. Richard Hackman, says that to create a real team it has to be clear who’s a member, and that the membership has to be reasonably stable over time. Teams won’t work well if people are constantly joining and leaving.
A clear sense of mission and purpose – all members need to know and agree on what the team needs to achieve and keep these objectives front of mind rather than getting bogged down in processes.
The right resources and support – for people to work better as a team, the right infrastructure needs to be in place. Collaboration tools like Workplace Chat by Facebook, which offers group chat and unlimited file sharing, can provide what teams need to share information and ideas effectively. Plus, members can connect whenever they need to, such as when on the move or working remotely.
The right membership – successful teams are diverse in terms of memberships and skills, so organizations need ensure there is a good balance of both.
Defined roles – to make sure the team works efficiently and productively, everyone needs to know what they are supposed to be doing. This means ensuring right from the outset that each person is clear on what they are responsible for.
An established and agreed way of working – everyone in the team needs to know and be comfortable with the team’s working processes. Streamlining these by using intuitive collaboration tools is a good way of getting these processes off the ground quickly. The familiar interface that tools such as Workplace by Facebook provide mean that people feeling confident about communicating and collaborating right away.