Get the most out of your team with these six best practices.
How well we communicate and collaborate depends on the tools we use and the kind of culture we aim to build. At Flock, we refer to collaboration as two people (or teams) talking to each other. We call them—wait for it: talking teams.
Talking teams inspire productivity by inviting each other to get a conversation started. We collaborate using our all-in-one messenger platform to easily brainstorm, share insights, and solve problems from anywhere in the world.
Talking gets our workplace flocking!
According to Wrike, 85% of employees who collaborate are happier at work. It’s a simple philosophy, really—the more you engage with each other, the more likely you are to succeed. And while collaboration tools are meant to elevate teamwork, they only work if we utilize them to our advantage.
Here’s how to get the most out of your team by getting them to collaborate more efficiently in the workplace—and why it matters.
1. Brainstorming: When it brains, it soars
Exchanging ideas and diverse perspectives help unlock a team’s potential. By unraveling our thoughts and swapping insights, we’re able to overcome roadblocks, resolve conflicts, and identify problems before they happen.
How to get flocking: At Flock, we prioritize messaging and video conferencing between our teams in Boston, Bengaluru, and Mumbai, as well as hold impromptu weekly meetings in our office. We get on messenger, create channels, and invite colleagues to start talking teams that’ll get us motivated and thinking along the same lines.
Brainstorming sessions keep teams firing on all cylinders and remind each other that we’re all in this together working towards a common goal.
2. Participation: Put your hands where their eyes can see
Choosing to partake is the first step towards making collaboration count. It shows initiative and amplifies your voice throughout the workplace. Participation sets a tone that others pick up on, and encourages them to bring their unique value to the conversation.
How to get flocking: It’s 9 a.m. and your co-workers are counting on you. Engage them by following-up on a discussion or following through on a project you’ve been working on. If someone needs a hand, raise yours and see if you can help. If not, try to be resourceful by pointing them in the right direction.
Being a contributor keeps your visibility high and urges you to take ownership of tasks by ensuring the conversation starts with you. So wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care and volunteer!
3. Chemistry: Different strokes for different folks
We’re all different: Different habits, different backgrounds, different skill sets; we even play on different teams. Getting everyone working in unison on the same project is a challenge, but learning to leverage each other’s superpowers is a superpower in and of itself.
For example, a team member may struggle with giving presentations but be a pro at troubleshooting systems. Getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses gives meaningful context to having each other’s backs. Developing rapport also adds infinite value to team dynamics and cultivates a strong working relationship.
How to get flocking: Get to know each other better by investing in your team’s morale. Team building fosters mutual respect and trust that vibrates throughout the workplace. Make it a point to make an impression and learn some of the tricks that make your co-workers tick.
4. Learning: Knowledge is power, level up
According to a Braido survey, 48% of employees prefer using collaboration tools to learn from peers. After all, two heads are better than one. Out of that 48%, more than three quarters say their productivity has improved because of it.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Learning echoes at the center of a collaborative team environment, and sharing knowledge gives employees a chance to pick up new skills and refine strengths. A problem that may seem impossible for one person to solve may just need a fresh perspective.
How to get flocking: Advocate for a culture of continuous learning and development. Support your team’s growth through failures and teachable moments, and provide a safety net when ideas fall flat or projects falter.
5. Sharing: Give it away, now
If knowledge is power, then sharing is caring.
Getting used to sharing our work is challenging but it’s a transformative mindset that can turn ordinary cooperation (working together) into effective collaboration (teamwork).
Letting go of our legos is a maxim we’ve come to embrace at Flock. It’s the notion that in order to work better together we have to let go of the work we hold dear to our hearts. Adopting a philosophy of “letting go” is the first step towards creating a culture of sharing that spreads knowledge.
How to get flocking: Allow sharing to become a natural motivator that resonates cross-functionally. When you divvy up work, use a “divide and conquer” approach that matches individual expertise with team-oriented tasks. If someone starts to fall behind on a project, share some of your bandwidth to help pick up the slack and bring the task back on track.
File-sharing is also vitally important to advance projects forward to fruition. Thanks to the right collaboration tools and software, the ability to access shareable resources (like Google Docs and Excel spreadsheets) from a single centralized hub has become a standardized best practice.
6. Feedback: It’s a two-way street
The feedback loop is one of the utmost essential communication tools we have at our disposal if we use it right. Feedback is meant to be a catalyst for self-esteem and play an essential role in our personal development.
However, if not deployed constructively, it can bury our trust in the system and our faith in working relationships.
The Harvard Business Review says 72% of employees believe their performance would improve if they received corrective feedback from managers. In fact, the same study suggests that 57% of employees preferred honest feedback as opposed to stellar praise and recognition. Still, the balancing act cannot be understated: it must be a two-way street.
Feedback is meant to be a catalyst for self-esteem and play an essential role in our personal development.
How to get flocking: Create a positive environment where feedback is appreciated and reciprocated. Don’t be overly subjective or offer points of view that come off as heavily opinionated or biased. Everyone’s performance experiences highs and lows, so take emotion-driven negative feedback with a grain of salt but act on constructive criticism with haste.
Practice praising your co-workers’ strengths but share a positive perspective on weaknesses. Do so in a way that offers context into your team’s overall goals and make time to address transgressions head-on (and then hands-on) with a positive attitude.
The purpose of your feedback should be to target areas of personal improvement that aims to fill gaps in productivity. Do so with empathy.
As virtual workplaces evolve, digital collaboration tools are becoming increasingly popular and useful to keep teams organized, in sync, and thriving. Without the right tools and processes performance will surely suffer, so make sure you’re doing it right.