Two plus two equal four, right? Well, they mostly do. When they don’t, though, then you have something special to write home about. Empires are built on these types of flawed mathematical equations. While you could be an exceptional genius who has managed to invent something special and has become a household name on the back of his invention, human beings with average IQs have also managed to build empires in the history of mankind. How do they do it? They do it by fostering and promoting successful collaboration.
Successful collaboration is something all entrepreneurs and business owners know about but not all of them realise its importance. Successful collaboration is the element that causes something to be greater than the sum of its individual parts. In simpler words, successful collaboration makes two and two five as opposed to just four.
What Is Successful Collaboration?
Unless you work alone in some distant outpost of some distant galaxy, it is likely that you collaborate at your workplace anyways. All your employees are in a state of constant collaboration every day. Every time a file is handed over to another employee or even a client’s call is transferred from one extension to another, what you’re seeing is collaboration. Heck, lifting your feet when someone is cleaning the floor is collaboration.
So if your employees collaborate every day, then what’s all the hullaballoo about successful collaboration? What’s the difference between collaboration and successful collaboration? The difference is the outcome. If someone’s cleaning the floor at the other end of the room and you lift your feet at your end, then it isn’t successful collaboration because your part of the floor remains dirty. This is an extremely simplistic and, let’s be brutally honest, daft example.
Successful collaboration usually comes into play when elaborate projects with multiple tasks are concerned. The more complex the project, tasks, and the team, the more difficult it becomes to achieve successful collaboration. Multiple elements need to be monitored and managed in such scenarios. How do you go about doing this? Here are some suggestions.
Create Communication and Behavioural Protocols
Collaboration is about communication. The better you communicate, the better your collaboration will be. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t communicate freely or efficiently. In the case of businesses where large teams exist, even a single individual not willing to communicate freely will end up derailing the entire team’s performance.
Therefore, it behoves a business to put in place protocols not only for communication but also behaviours since the latter is a form of former. These protocols should contain basic things such as documenting all requests for support or information via either emails or internal memos. Furthermore, they should allow for certain behaviours between individuals and bar certain behaviours as well so as to prevent miscommunication from occurring.
The purpose of these protocols is to provide your employees with a standard to work off of as opposed to muddling through unknown territories on a case by case basis.
Choose Your Team Wisely
A packaging professional will not be able to provide any significant input in a digital marketing discussion while a digital marketer will find himself completely out of sorts in a meeting focused on packaging. This will remain the same even though the two may be the best of friends out of office. What this shows is that in order to ensure successful collaboration, you need to pay a lot of attention to the teams you create.
Successful collaboration also depends on how well the individuals in a team complement each other. They shouldn’t only be complimentary from the perspective of skills and knowledge bases but also their personalities. For example, an introvert in a team of extroverts will find it very hard to contribute simply because he isn’t used to enforcing his views. Similarly, collaboration between introverts can be very difficult because none of them actually put themselves out there for the sake of the company.
Specify Roles and Duties
Just like establishing protocols, it is also important to specify roles and duties of the individuals that you’ve selected for a team to achieve successful collaboration. This specification is critical because it doesn’t only tell individual employees what is expected of them but also tell their team members on what to expect from their employees.
In fact, it allows team members to know whom to go for, for which type of work. Without clarity of roles and duties, successful collaboration is typically defeated by chaos and lack of coordination. Furthermore, if you don’t specify roles and duties of team members, you also end up risking personality clashes.
For instance, without specified roles and duties, it would be very easy for marketing and operation managers to fight regarding lead generation and lead conversion. The marketing manager can claim to have brought in 100 leads only to receive 5 conversions because the operations team didn’t offer the right services.
Similarly, the operation manager can claim that the majority of those 100 leads weren’t solid enough for him to get conversion because they weren’t suited to the business’s offerings. In such a scenario, a simple specification that the marketing team is also responsible for sorting through generic leads will help avert these types of clashes.
Establish Tangible Targets and Goals
Collaboration is about pulling together in a single direction, wherein if one cog fails then the others pick up the slack. How will everyone pull in a single direction, if the direction hasn’t been made clear? For that matter, how will the other cogs pick up the slack if they’re unaware that one of the cogs is faltering? This is where targets and goals come into the picture. So as to ensure successful collaboration, every team should be given targets and goals to aim for.
Once everyone knows the end game, they will not only be able to collaborate better but also pace themselves to maximise productivity. It is important to remember that the targets and goals in question need to be tangible. The reason why tangibility of goals and targets is important is that it will make them easier to track. In other words, it will make it easier for the team members to know where they stand with respect to due dates and deadlines.
Reward Successes and Standout Performances Openly and Freely
Successful collaboration also depends on motivation. In fact, all types of work-related successes depend on nothing but motivation. It is every team leader, manager, and business owner’s job to motivate his team to achieve the goals and targets that were set in front of them. The most obvious and simplest way of doing this is to reward successes and standout performances openly and freely.
The bigger companies have award ceremonies every year, where the employee with the overall best performance is recognised for his achievements. The smaller companies, at the very least, have praises and recognition from the boss in front of all the colleagues. In either case, the objective is to give the receiver pride for his achievements which, in turn, is supposed to motivate him even further.