Fostering collaborative milieu at workplace

By Swapnil Kamat, Dec 30, 2016, DHNS Dec 30 2016, 00:10 IST
How do you build a top performing team? Do you get the smartest people together because it means better results? Think again because what if the members of your team don't get along. Will they still be able to deliver what's expected of them?

Not necessarily. You will need to create an environment that encourages and appreciates collaborative efforts because that's what can help you achieve targets as a team. In fact, other than meeting goals, it gives employees a chance to do a self-analysis and teaches them to look at the bigger picture than just selfish interests of proving oneself indispensable for the organisation. Here's how you can create a collaborative atmosphere in office:

1 Set accountability by communicating expectations: Set goals for every team member so that they understand their position and shoulder responsibility. That's the first step to ensure that they don't shoot arrows in the dark and devise a way on how they can work as a team and deliver what's expected of them. Assess and give feedback, if required. Whether or not they succeed, they will learn to take collective responsibility for the output and identify what worked and didn't work for them.

2 Set team goals: Apart from individual goals for each team member, it is extremely important to set team goals that are specific and measurable on a monthly or a quarterly basis. Getting the whole team to align their work focusing on the team's goals will help foster a greater sense of accountability and collaboration. Review these goals regularly and make changes to them, if needed. It is also a good idea for you to share the outcome of the collaborative effort towards team goals, again on a monthly or quarterly basis. This will keep team members motivated to continue working collaboratively.

3 Encourage brainstorming sessions and focus on innovation
Do not limit discussions to meetings only that happen once a week. It is quite limiting and makes employees proactive only a day before the meeting. Let the team members meet whenever they have ideas to discuss. Nurture the "let's do it together" attitude that'll enable them to adopt a problem-solving approach.

Instil in them the importance of questioning rather than passive acceptance. Be open to novel ideas which may sound ridiculous but may be the best solution in reality. Debate without getting personal.

4 Make social collaboration online tools available: There's no dearth of online tools that make collaboration at work hassle-free. From sharing calendars to assigning tasks and marking them complete or incomplete, these tools make life so much easier and help keep projects on track. Whether or not your team is distributed across the globe, such tools work out best to assess who is at what stage and if everything's been done and will be done within the stipulated deadline. Document sharing becomes easy and readily accessible at all times. Since everything's open to everyone in the team, members make sure they have their tasks completed for their work affects the one next in order.

5 Socialise as a team outside the work space: Collaboration depends on how team members get along. Some who don't gel focus only on differences, or they may not know each other because they work in different departments and are expected to now collaborate. Spot it at an early stage for teammates need to trust each other.

Break the ice by organising a get together and loosen up over off-sites or dinner and drinks. It opens communication channels, breaks walls of misunderstandings, and lessens stress because voilà, they are now getting along and are beginning to know each other!

6 Recognise and celebrate collaborative accomplishments: What do you think sports persons do when they set out in the field to compete? Sure, they have a game plan to focus on, but what keeps them together is also their previous accomplishments as a team. It is important to reiterate past wins and boost the team's confidence.

You should leverage your team members' strengths and appreciate their efforts. Reward them, even if it is means ordering a cake to celebrate small wins.
Harness the power of collaboration; but to be able to do so, stay consistent in your efforts and let your intention trickle down to each and every one of your team members.

(The writer is Chief Executive Officer of Work Better Training)