Managers and business owners are in constant pursuit of improving their team performance and quality of delivery. They hire the smartest individuals, provide them rigorous training, and make sure they get all the resources required to get the work done.
Yet, the results aren’t as expected.
It’s because most managers miss the most important ingredient for a productive and efficient workplace – collaboration.
Today, we’ll talk about how you can collaborate with your teams and clients to achieve improved business outcomes.
What is Collaboration?
That’s a good question, not because we’re talking about collaboration, but because many people don’t clearly understand its meaning. Broadly speaking, collaboration is similar to cooperation. But there are some nuances.
Cooperation merely means hanging in there with another person. Let’s say you’re sharing a room with a roommate. You don’t like him, and he doesn’t like you, but you’re still staying together because the rent is low. Here, you’re cooperating, not collaborating.
Collaboration essentially means working together towards a common goal or purpose. It’s the process of two or more people, teams, departments, or organizations working in harmony to complete a task.
Seamless collaboration is crucial. About 75% of employers believe collaboration is vital for producing the desired results.
And collaboration isn’t confined within an organization. It’s equally important to collaborate with your clients, customers, suppliers, vendors, and possibly everyone who participates in your business.
How to Collaborate with Your Team and Clients?
Before delving into the actual ‘how-tos,’ let’s quickly talk about team culture and leadership.
No collaboration is possible if you don’t have a solid team culture and a strong leader. It’s like bees in a hive. If there’s no bonding, they’ll try to get an edge over the other. But if there’s a positive team culture, they’ll work together towards a common goal. And even if they deviate, a strong leader should be there to ensure the team’s not slipping.
That said, let’s talk about how you can achieve seamless collaboration with your team and clients.
Ensure Open Communication
Communication is the key to harmonious working relationships. But with most teams working remotely, achieving effective communication can be difficult.
Most organizations rely on chat or email-based communication, making it difficult to keep track of important conversations. Thus, there’s miscommunication, resulting in reduced productivity and efficiency.
It’s critical to have a strong communication strategy to ensure there are no voids in communication. For example, you can utilize video conferencing tools to conduct virtual meetings instead of relying on emails only. Especially when communicating with clients, always prioritize video-based interactions.
Team-building activities can strengthen your team culture. It helps your team members know each other better, which ensures better collaboration.
Interactions can take place in many ways. You can host virtual games and encourage your team members to participate. Online talent shows are another excellent option, where employees can showcase their hidden talents.
A study from Qualtrics showed that employees with managers who help them manage their workloads are eight times more likely to stay with the company.
As more people work from home, managers may lose track of how much an employee is working. This can be detrimental, not only to the current project but company culture in general.
Therefore, managers should use time tracking software tools to effectively prioritize tasks and help team members manage their workloads.
Recognize and Appreciate
Collaboration is possible only if the team members feel they’re a part of the fraternity. Studies suggest that if a company doubles the number of employees who receive appreciation, it’ll record a 24% improvement in work quality and a 27% reduction in absenteeism.
Managers should foster a culture of recognition and appreciation. Every employee should be treated as an individual, and their contribution should be considered and applauded.
Create a Transparent Culture
Honesty and transparency are vital to a team’s success. If you keep your team members in the dark, they’re likely to feel left out. They want the truth and facts, even if they’re bad news.
Teams with reduced trust levels communicate superficially. There won’t be a bond necessary for effective collaboration. As a result, the overall interaction will decrease, which will reflect on the outcome of the project.
The same goes for client communications. If you’ve screwed up a part of the project, be open about it. Apologize, and promise the client that you’ll fix it as soon as possible.
In the end, we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes. By accepting them and being open about it, you can create trust and credibility, which can go a long way in nurturing meaningful relationships.
Use the Right Tools
Working isn’t the same anymore, and most likely, it’ll never be the same again. COVID-19 has left an irreversible dent on workplace culture. We may never see the same level of in-person interaction, communication, and team-building. But by using the right tools, we can achieve comparable outcomes.
Thanks to advancements in technology, we have tools for everything. As discussed, you can use time tracking software to manage employee workload. If you want a full-fledged project management solution, tools like Trello and JIRA can help.
Many small businesses struggle with invoicing. As brick-and-mortar stores have almost disappeared from shoppers’ outlook, companies are forced to sell online. Tools like Moon Invoice can be a lifesaver in such situations. MoonInvoice allows you to create invoices in Android, iPhone, or Tablet and send it to your clients and suppliers.
For virtual meetings, tools like Zoom and Google Duo are excellent picks. If customer support is your priority, Hootsuite and Freshdesk can help. Basically, there are software solutions available for every business hurdle. You just need to find the right ones.
In all, collaboration is all about making sure your team members understand and respect each other. The same goes for you and your client. It demands mutual respect and understanding. When two parties trust and respect each other, they’re more likely to work together and achieve the common goal.