Increase Team Collaboration Productivity: 11 Tips

Please read the original post, published on OnePlace Blog on August 17th, 2010.

We’ve all heard by now that effective team collaboration can greatly impact the productivity and success of the business. In a recent study, over 80% of businesses stated that collaboration was the key to future success. This sounds great, right?

Absolutely! But there are many businesses who are hesitant to jump on the collaboration bandwagon because they aren’t sure exactly how collaboration will benefit them. A big concern is that the new collaboration process may not be as productive or beneficial as they want it to be.

In all honesty, there is a learning curve with collaboration processes and tools, as there is with almost everything else in the business world. The key is to agreeing to get around the curve as gracefully and successfully as possible to begin enhancing the communication and collaboration in your business.

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Reasons You May Find Collaboration Challenging

Please read the original post, published on E2.0Pros on June 10th, 2010

A recent study done by Elearning! and All Collaboration found that nearly 80% of executives surveyed said that collaboration was imperative to the future success of their company. This sounds like great news, right?

From the survey, only one-third of respondents who want to collaborate are able to do so in their organizations. And get this – survey respondents listed email as their most-used collaboration tool. This may be no surprise, because email has become the communication mainstay in business, allowing people to share and edit documents, providing a means of retaining work and progress. However, newer, more efficient tools have been developed, which hugely overpower the collaborative capacity of e-mail.

According to BusinessWeek, of those companies that deploy collaboration programs, 75% consider the program to be fair at best. There seems to be a disconnect between the “want” for collaboration and the actual “use” of collaboration in today’s business world.

With the tendency of companies to use e-mail (which was not designed for collaboration), it’s no wonder that many enterprises are performing poorly in collaboration despite millions or billions of dollars wasted every year. Business leaders are versed in the concept of collaboration, as are most professionals during the present times, however, a disconnect exists. Guess what? Emailing an idea to a bunch of team members, with the result that half of them lose that email in their over-stuffed inbox isn’t collaboration, nor is only a few people responding to the e-mail and the rest of the team not being allowed into the conversation.

Below are three of the reasons why your collaboration efforts may be sub-par.

Reason #1 – You’re scared

Yes, you know the benefits that collaboration can offer, but you are still wary of it. How much more effective can successful collaboration really be? Do we need collaboration to get by? Well, yes, yes you do, as stated in BusinessWeek and Elearning! Based on that nearly 80% who want to begin collaborating more, you’ll want to beat them to the punch to improve your businesses practices and your bottom line right away.

Goal: Develop fearlessness

Example: You just need to overcome those hurdles to collaboration. Understand that it will take some time to become as efficient as possible, and there will be a learning curve. But the outcomes are going to be so great that you’ll forget about the small challenge it was to get there. Leaders need to develop a collaborative vision and make some tough choices.

Reason #2 – You don’t know your options

“Collaboration” is kind of a big word, and can mean a lot of different things, including tools, techniques, training and processes. So how do you know what solution is right for you and your enterprise? You don’t – until you strategically develop greater understanding.

Goal: Educate yourself on the available tools, hire a consultant or researcher, experiment with new processes and tools

Example: Do some research on different collaboration techniques and online collaboration solutions to facilitate communication in your team. Try them yourself, make sure that they are easy to use and helpful. Money is not the issue, rather if the technology is of benefit. Allow others in your organization to test them out as well. Once you have a comparison of the tools and options available, you’ll be able to make an educated decision as to which solution can encourage effective and successful collaboration in your business.

Reason #3 – You haven’t accepted it

Even with the most advanced collaboration solution, tools do not make collaboration great. People make collaboration great. In order for the solution you chose to make collaboration great, you and your workers need to accept the collaboration concept in your corporate culture. It’s not enough to try collaborating on a few different items, or to test collaboration for a while and revert back to ineffective email for communication. You need to dive head first into collaboration and make the commitment to a better, more collaborative work environment in order to see the incredible results that can be achieved.

Goal: Collaboration Adoption

Example: Listen up, enterprise – you are going to have to make the big leap into collaboration and accept it into your corporate culture with open arms. What does this mean? It means communicating from top-down and bottom-up the powers of collaboration, creating new reward systems, changing performance reviews, encouraging team work, and walking the talk.

In summary, once you address these three topics, you’ll immediately see success. The 80% will personally thank you.

Accept Project Management and Team Collaboration In Your Corporate Culture

Please read the original post on PMTips.net, published June 9th, 2010

Personal story alert: I used to work in a company that vehemently objected to implementing an online project management and collaboration system in their business. Their excuses were the same that we hear from many other businesses: It takes too long to implement. We would waste time. We don’t know how to research a solution. We don’t think anyone would use the solution we choose.

And eventually, the decision was made to overcome all those objections and just move forward with a project management solution, come hell or high water. And the results are were the same that we hear from many other businesses: Projects were managed better. Team members communicated more. Collaboration took place around business plans and documents. Supervisors were able to oversee all projects easily.

By now, we all know the benefits that effective project management and team collaboration can offer the modern business. But there are still the objections, the wariness, the suspicions of moving forward with accepting project management and collaboration practices into the business. And perhaps it’s because business owners just don’t know how to takes those first few steps toward improved business organization and communication.

So, here are tips for accepting project management and team collaboration into your corporate culture.

Test Solutions Together

Your team may resent a mandated change in which they have no say. Allow them the opportunity to test out project management and collaboration solutions before you select the final product for your business. They will be the ones using it most often, and their opinions will shape the way the projects are managed in the future.

Start With One Project At A Time

Don’t dive in head first with this new process. Pick and choose one or a couple projects to start out with to get everyone used to the new system. This way, your team will learn the new processes, iron out the wrinkles in the system and discover more efficient ways of managing their work before all the projects are there.

Create A Timeline

Even though you are starting out slow, you need to have an end in sight. Set a timeline indicating when all projects, work and communications will need to be 100% inside your new system. This will give everyone a goal to shoot for, and will ensure you don’t fall back into your old habits.

Offer Encouragement

Everyone likes a little encouragement, right? When you see a teammate fully accepting and adapting to the new project management and collaboration system, let them know they are doing a good job! Encourage them to continue with their new productivity skills, and to help others if needed as well.

Make It Fun!

When first encouraging your team to get involved in their new project management system, make sure they have fun when they are there. Don’t just work on and collaborate around business stuff – play games and hold exciting discussions to keep people coming back. Offer a prize for the most creative project title. Collaborate together on editing photos of your teammates. Discuss what the mother-to-be should name her new baby. All of these fun little games can encourage people to enjoy using the new project management and team collaboration solution while also learning more about it in the process.

Once you’ve taken the first big step to deciding to move forward with a project management and team collaboration solution, you need to encourage the rest of the team to step along with you. By following the steps above, you’ll be working more efficiently and effectively in no time, and collaborating on improved outcomes together.