How to build collaborative teams

In today's fast-paced business world, collaboration is more important than ever, and building effective teams helps you achieve success — especially when considering the impact of remote and hybrid teams. 

Whether you're a manager looking to improve team performance, an employee hoping to work better with your colleagues, or simply curious about what it takes to create an effective team dynamic, you've come to the right place.

Here, we'll learn how to build collaborative teams that work well together.

What does effective collaboration look like?

Quite simply, collaboration means working together toward a shared goal. It involves communication, cooperation, and coordination among individuals or groups. These groups may work together directly as well as communicate with other departments or external partners.

Effective collaboration involves a deliberate mix of techniques, including clear and open communication

With many businesses embracing remote or hybrid work, efficient collaboration is more critical than ever. A deliberate mix of techniques is needed, from clear roles and responsibilities to easily understandable guidelines. Because collaborative teams work together to explore new ideas, share expertise, and achieve ambitious projects, team cooperation is the foundation of developing team synergy.

Effective collaboration requires a collaborative work environment where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together to solve problems. Collaborative teams have a clear sense of purpose, mutual trust, respect, and shared responsibility. They communicate openly, consider different perspectives, and are willing to adapt to changes and challenges.

Ultimately, effective collaboration in a hybrid workplace looks like a team working together toward a common goal, combining their knowledge, skills, and perspectives to reach success — achieving more as a collaborative team than they would as individuals.

Key elements of a collaborative team

When it comes to collaboration in the workplace, there are five key elements that make or break a team's success: clarity, adaptability, accountability, coordination, and transparency. These elements are the building blocks of a collaborative team and are crucial for achieving shared goals, improving team performance, and fostering a positive work environment.

Clarity

Clarity is key to team collaboration, as it keeps everyone on the same page and helps them understand their roles and responsibilities. When there is clarity, team members know what is expected of them and what they need to do to contribute to the team's success. This helps to avoid confusion, duplication of effort, and misunderstandings.

Clarity also makes it easier to measure progress and identify any obstacles preventing the team from achieving its goals. When everyone is clear on what to do, it creates a sense of accountability and promotes a collaborative environment where people work together toward a common objective.

Adaptability

Teams often face unexpected situations and obstacles, and being adaptable allows them to adjust their plans and strategies accordingly. When a team is versatile, they are more likely to find innovative solutions to problems and make the most of new opportunities. Adaptability enables employees to respond to changing circumstances and challenges.

Adaptable teams also foster a culture of learning, where members learn from their mistakes and make improvements for future projects. This culture helps the team stay focused on their goals and work together effectively to achieve them, even in uncertain or dynamic environments.

Accountability

Accountability means employees follow through on commitments, meet deadlines, and communicate their progress

When team members hold themselves accountable, they're more likely to follow through on commitments, meet deadlines, and produce high-quality work. Those benefits foster team members' trust and help ensure a positive and productive team dynamic. Accountability encourages team members to take ownership of their work and be responsible for contributing to the team's success.

If a collaborative team is working on a project, each team member should be accountable for completing their assigned tasks on time and to the best of their ability. If people have difficulty delivering on their commitments, they should be held accountable and work with the team to find a solution. This accountability helps ensure the project stays on track and the team achieves its goals together.

Coordination

When team members are coordinated, they can communicate with each other, share information and resources, and avoid duplication of effort. The results are a streamlined work process and optimized use of time and resources. Coordination allows team members to work together effectively and efficiently toward a common goal.

For example, if a collaborative team is working on a project, coordination ensures that team members know what tasks need to be completed, who is responsible for each task, and when each task is due. Team members can coordinate their efforts to ensure each task is completed promptly and effectively, helping the team stay on track and work toward goals together.

Transparency

When team members are transparent, they share information openly and honestly, which helps build a positive and productive team dynamic. Transparent communication also ensures everyone has the same understanding of the project, its objectives, and its progress. Transparency fosters trust and open communication among employees.

For instance, if a collaborative team is working on a project, transparency ensures team members are aware of any potential roadblocks, concerns, or issues that arise during the project. Employees can discuss these openly and work together to find solutions. Everyone is on the same page, and  the project progresses smoothly.

10 tips for building collaborative teams

Collaboration is essential for any team to succeed, but building collaborative environments takes time. Creating a team work environment that fosters collaboration requires intentional effort and a focus on specific strategies.

Here are 10 tips for building a collaborative team environment. These tips will help you establish a shared sense of purpose, define clear roles, and create a culture of trust and transparency.

1. Establish a common purpose and goal

Establishing a common purpose or goal is a critical first step toward building a collaborative team. When team members are aligned around a shared objective, it creates a sense of purpose and direction that guides decision-making and prioritizes tasks.

To create a common purpose or goal, involving all team members in the process is important. Everyone then has a voice and feels invested in the shared objective. Start by facilitating a discussion that allows each team member to contribute their ideas and perspectives. Use this discussion to identify areas of agreement and potential areas of conflict.

Once the team has agreed on a common purpose or goal, it's essential to communicate it clearly to all team members. Define the objective in concrete terms and identify specific milestones that will be used to measure progress. When everyone understands what they're working toward and why, it helps create a sense of shared ownership and accountability.

2. Set transparent metrics

Setting transparent metrics clarifies what success looks like and helps team members understand how their individual contributions lead to the team's overall success.

To set transparent metrics, involving all employees in the process is essential. Start by identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most relevant to the team's shared objective. Once the KPIs have been identified, define them in clear, measurable terms that you can easily track over time.

Keep the metrics transparent and accessible to all team members. Use a shared, cloud-enabled dashboard or project management tool that allows team members to monitor progress in real time. Having access to the same information helps create a sense of shared accountability and encourages team members to collaborate more effectively.

3. Create clear roles for team members

When everyone knows their responsibilities, they can collaborate effectively to achieve a common objective

Creating clear roles for team members ensures everyone understands their responsibilities and how they fit into the bigger picture. When employees know what is expected of them, they are more likely to take ownership of their tasks and collaborate effectively with others to achieve common goals.

To create clear roles for team members, define each person's job functions, responsibilities, and expectations. Do this through job descriptions, performance evaluations, or simply through regular communication between team members and their supervisors. It's also important to align roles and responsibilities with team goals and to recognize and value each person's contributions.

When everyone on the team knows what they need to do and how they contribute to the team's success, they are more likely to work together and collaborate effectively. This collaboration leads to a positive work environment and improved outcomes.

4. Choose the right team leaders

Influential leaders create a collaborative work environment by setting a positive tone, establishing clear expectations, and providing team members with the necessary support and resources.

The right team leader should be someone who inspires and motivates team members, creates a sense of shared purpose, and encourages open communication and collaboration. They should also have the necessary skills and experience to manage and support the team, while also being able to delegate responsibilities and encourage team members to take ownership of their tasks.

When the right team leader is chosen, they help create a collaborative team environment by fostering a culture of trust and respect, encouraging open and honest communication, and promoting collaboration and teamwork. This leads to improved performance, increased job satisfaction, and a more positive team dynamic.

5. Capitalize on team members' strengths

Everyone on the team brings unique strengths and skills to the table. By identifying and using these strengths to their fullest potential, employees work collaboratively and effectively toward achieving their goals.

A collaborative environment should encourage the development of each employee's strengths and utilize them to benefit the entire team. People should have an understanding of what they do best and how they contribute to the team's goals.

One way to capitalize on team members' strengths is to assign tasks based on their individual expertise. This enhances team member engagement and improves team performance. By doing this, each employee can contribute and have a sense of ownership over their work.

6. Communicate openly, effectively, and meaningfully

Communication is key to building collaborative teams. When team members communicate openly, effectively, and meaningfully, they are more likely to develop trust, respect, and understanding of each other.

To promote effective communication in a collaborative team environment, establish clear communication channels and guidelines. These measures may include regular team meetings, one-on-one meetings with team members, and collaborative tools such as project management software and messaging platforms.

Team members should also be encouraged to actively listen to each other, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback. They should feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, even if they differ from others on the team.

7. Use collaborative tools

Cloud-based collaboration tools make it easy for people to work together from anywhere

Using collaborative tools significantly improves team communication, productivity, and overall collaboration in the workplace. Cloud-based tools like team collaboration software make it easy for team members to work together, regardless of location.

These tools enable team members to collaborate on shared documents, track project progress, and communicate with each other in real time. These tools also help team members stay organized via file sharing, task management, and scheduling.

There are numerous benefits of cloud collaboration — teams stay better connected, collaborate more efficiently, and achieve their goals. Just make sure to choose the right tools that fit the team's specific needs, and ensure that team members are trained to use them effectively.

8. Make time for bonding — even with remote teams

Bonding activities help team members establish personal connections, trust, and a sense of belonging, which are all essential for fostering collaboration in the workplace.

Some ideas for bonding activities include virtual coffee breaks, online team-building games, virtual happy hours, and team-building workshops. Encouraging team members to share personal stories, interests, and hobbies also helps them get to know each other better and build stronger relationships.

Creating a safe and inclusive environment for bonding activities is also essential. Leaders should encourage participation from all team members and ensure the activities are enjoyable for everyone. Additionally, leaders can use these bonding activities as an opportunity to model open communication and create a positive team culture.

9. Celebrate successful collaboration

Recognizing team members' contributions and achievements fosters a sense of accomplishment and motivates people to continue working together toward common goals. Celebrations can take many forms, from small acknowledgments like shoutouts in meetings to more formal recognition events or awards.

It's also essential to make sure celebrations are inclusive and represent the team's diversity. When planning celebrations, consider different cultural or religious practices, individual preferences, and team dynamics. By highlighting the benefits and positive outcomes of collaboration, teams are encouraged to continue working together in a collaborative environment.

10. Lead by example and provide executive support

Leaders lead by example when it comes to collaboration in the workplace. When team leaders demonstrate a collaborative mindset and behaviors, it sets the tone for the entire organization. Leaders who value collaboration encourage their team members to do the same.

Team leads provide support by offering resources, time, and encouragement to team members working collaboratively. They  recognize and reward employees demonstrating collaborative behavior and celebrate successful collaboration.

Leaders also communicate the importance of collaboration and set goals that emphasize teamwork. They create collaboration opportunities for team members, such as cross-functional projects or training programs. Additionally, leaders can check that the organization's policies and processes encourage collaboration.

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The Content Cloud is a game changer for the entire organization, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity across every team. Contact us today, and explore what you can do with Box.

Learn how the Content Cloud can power collaboration

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