The Art of value-added collaboration via digitally enabled technology
In the age of virtual team meetings from home, workers are faced by constant challenges to their workflow in the form of varying streams of information, changing assets, unpolished communication and interruptions. When team members are remotely based, an extra layer of effort is required to achieve effective communication and collaboration.
Collaborating effectively within and between multidisciplinary teams is perhaps the most daunting task any modern business will face. According to a Harvard Business Review article, most of the results from effective collaborations come from a minority of employees: only 3% to 5% of employees generate 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations. The findings also point to the fact that most businesses today are having a hard time leveraging the impact of their most collaborative employees.Considering the fact that the study was pre-pandemic, the task in hand nowadays has become even more difficult.
How can companies get the most out of their best collaborative employees in order to generate up to a third of value-added collaborations?
For any type of organization to be agile it must place collaboration and productivity at its core. To do this, it must first understand the three types of collaborative resources it has available to create value:
- Knowledge and skill (can be recorded and passed on)
- Awareness, access and position (facilitating collaboration)
- Personal time and energy from individual employees (finite resource)
Demanding personal time and energy from individual employees is the default when teams want to collaborate. Every request to collaborate in person, meet and approve decisions for any project leaves less time and energy available for that person’s own work, making the employee less productive and eventually hindering his personal goal completion. In some cases, this may also result in creating adversity towards future collaboration efforts.
Fostering the right mentality for collaboration
A good place to start addressing this issue is by breaking bad habits to enable true collaboration between teams and remapping how challenges are handled. Face to face assistance should only be considered once digital knowledge bases, project management software, reports and remote inquiries (email and phone) are not providing solutions. If this step is needed, precautionary measures like wearing a mask and at staying at a safe distance from people should be considered. The simple change in having a real human interaction will dramatically impact the personal time and energy from employees and will result in them regaining productivity.
While people from different teams might not work together on a daily basis, it is very important that the team managers do in daily or bi-weekly short meetings. This will keep employees informed of what other teams are working on. At the same time, these spaces will accelerate the discussion of short and long-term company goals and help managers decide how to share and assign work within and across teams. By creating a system that provides all the necessary and optimal conditions to enable collaboration, team members will be empowered to co-operate effectively.
Once team and collaboration practices gain solidity, establishing cohesion should be a priority in order to guarantee a continuous improvement and adaptability of the collaboration process. There are many tools that can help enable cohesion, from communication and collaboration tools, to project management tools.
For example, Google G Suite Apps offer a wide variety of tools with drive, docs and sheets, that can easily integrate into multidisciplinary collaboration applications based on the proven Kanban methodology. These applications provide a visual platform that will help make the collaboration process between multidisciplinary teams seamless and effective.
When team managers are able to provide a visual workspace, information will be seen, shared and measured while every team member will be on the same page. The result undeniably will be cohesion, transparency, alignment and the fading of silos.
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