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team collaboration best practices
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Looking for team collaboration best practices? We’ve created 20 ways for you to increase team collaboration right now.

This past week I had a great opportunity to go down memory lane while speaking to two HR groups. I always enjoy going back in time to talk about some of the best and worst teams I’ve worked on. I love sharing stories of how what may seem like an aggressive team that fights like a family on Thanksgiving is actually a team that deeply respects and trusts one another. Or working with people that gave the appearance of getting long, but they could not have a disagreement without someone getting offended and shutting completely down.

It was these types of team contrasts that lead me to study teams for almost 10 years. Then secretly taking what I’ve learned and applying it to the many project teams to test the results. What I learned was… it is easy and yet very hard to create a high-performing team. It’s easy to apply the principles, but often hard to maintain consistency to wait for the results. We often quit doing small things before they lead to big results and collaboration.

The Way We Work Is Changing

With the increased usage of cognitive technology, AI, and more, the way people work is changing but more importantly how they work and what they need to know is changing.

So, if we know the future of work is changing and the workforce must change with it, what’s the problem? PWC 22nd Annual 2019 Global CEO Survey Talent Trends, found that 79 percent of CEOs, say a lack of key skills is threatening the future of growth in their organization. People are not skilled to do the work of the future and the future is now.

What’s this have to do with teams and collaboration?

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey, there is a shift from silo work to getting the work done in cross-functional teams. In a recent survey, 31 percent of respondents said they operate mostly or almost wholly in teams and another 65 percent of the organization is hierarchical but operates using team-based work. Change, technology, and innovation are moving faster than Roadrunner running from Wiley Coyote! It is at a break-neck speed.

However, our workforce is not ready and that makes collaboration more important than ever. We must rely and depend on each other’s knowledge to increase our organization’s knowledge. In other words, we must work together to LEARN from each other. We don’t need more training! We need to work with more people from a variety of backgrounds.

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20 EASY Things You Can Do To Create More Collaboration On Your Team

We’ve selected the most important team collaboration best practices.

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1: Build-in “get to know you” time at every meeting

This is so small and easy to do, but over time it will help everyone get to know each other.  Ask kick-off questions like “what is your favorite movie of all time?” and track the answers.  You’ll be amazed by the number of movie quotes that will start flying in future team meetings.

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2: Rotate who leads the team

This is a great way for those that may be quieter to have a voice.  It will also help to ensure everyone is engaged in the meetings.

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3: Recognize others more often

If you don’t have an internal system of recognition, you may need to get creative about company recognition, but you can always recognize members of the team for their hard work either in meetings or during 1:1s.

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4: Write weekly Thank You cards

I can’t say this enough, THANK YOU goes a long way.  Let me shout it out for those in the back – SEND PERSONAL THANK YOU CARDS, PEOPLE LOVE THEM!

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5: Celebrate small wins as a team

Buy snacks, craft awards, and kick off a meeting using high-fives.  There are literally hundreds of ways to celebrate small wins.

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6: Host IDEASTORMS to encourage creativity

Sometimes we all get stuck in doing what we know (we think) works.  Break the rut by hosting an IDEA-STORM and make it visual!  Ask people to draw outrageous ideas and there are no bad ideas. You’ll be surprised how much fun the group will have and what new ideas come from this storm. 

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7: Cook together

Cooking together creates a bond.  You’ve heard it before, break bread together.  Eating together is good, cooking together is better.  Check out the many local establishments that cater to workgroups cooking together.

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8: Positive shout outs on team calls

Positive Shout Outs are basically virtual high fives.  Lead by example by starting the call with positive shout-outs.

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9: Take a different personality tests

I know what you’re thinking; I HATE personality tests.  But… hear me out on this one.  The more we know about ourselves the better others can know us and appreciate our gifts.  Make it fun to take the tests and share the results. 

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10: Celebrate the end of a project

Who doesn’t love a ½ day off on a Friday?  Take the team out to celebrate the end of a big project or event.

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11: Lead by example

If you want your team to be more collaborative, you must be more collaborative. 

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12: Set expectations and ensure everyone knows their role

If you want team dysfunction, let everyone assume their role and who is doing what.  BOOM! Dysfunction!  If you want to encourage collaboration, start by asking people what role they play in the group and document the conversation.

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13: LIVE the team culture

You must embody the values of the team and live the culture.  If the values open dialog, you must embody a culture of open discussion.  Too many times organizations put the values on the wall or in their newsletter, but the employees don’t embody the values.

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14: Ensure everyone feels like they are part of the team

No one likes to feel like an outsider, be inclusive of all members. 

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15: Appreciate and value everyone’s unique assets and talents

We all have unique attributes and gifts to offer a team.  The big picture thinker must truly appreciate the analyst, and sales members must appreciate the perspective of their legal department and so on.  We are all unique and instead of complaining behind each other’s back, maybe we should be more thankful for the differences among us.

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16: Be intentional with team building activities

Too many times leaders randomly pick team building activities.  Instead, think of the behaviors you are trying to create and select team-building activities that align with those behaviors.  If you want them to be better collaborative problem solvers, take them to an Escape Room.  If you wish they would communicate better, select the Lego activity that encourages creative communication. 

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17: Reward-based on collaboration, not competition

If we expect collaboration, we should have goals that create and reward competition.

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18: Have an open discussion about values

This one is highly impactful and rarely done.  Ask the group to write down all the team values they appreciate and want them to embody as a team.  Visually and graphically record the answers.  This will help the group to gain agreement and to operate by the values.  Then have open discussions when the values are broken.  An example might be, a person writing down “be on time” and then everyone starts showing up late to meetings.  That’s an opportunity to discuss the value of being on time.

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19: Create a 1 Vision document

Group members must know their role and the why behind a project.  Cast the vision of what the work will look like when it is completed and how everyone will feel.

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20: Make it fun! – No one likes being on a dysfunctional boring team. 

Build-in fun whenever possible.

Let’s commit together – that this is the year we work better together and learn from each other! Using these team collaboration best practices you’ll be well on your way.

Want to share the 20 ways to increase team collaboration with your peers? No problem! Download the 20 Ways To Increase Team Collaboration in 2020 Infographic here. (no email required)

What are your team collaboration best practices?  

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