Overcoming Collaboration Challenges in the Workplace

By Ryan Cramer September 9, 2016 (Updated: September 25, 2016) Articles and Editorials

There’s no denying that collaboration has reshaped the way that humans are getting things done in the workplace.

Since shifting from an individualistic mindset to a collaborative one, a new story is emerging where collective action and interdependencies play a role in survival and success. Collaboration is defined as a process where a group of people explore their ideas to search for a solution that extends beyond their individual limited visions. Collaboration has always been about working together as a team, but now it’s all about how we collaborate that needs to adapt to our society. As businesses continue to grow and move at an increasing rate, working in isolation is a disadvantage. Content Management Systems (CMS) have made it easier to organize content and make it accessible. Some CMS don’t require coding skills which makes it easy for everyone of all skill sets to use. By using a CMS, you are able to organize information in a way that would be available for everyone to use and collaborate on.

The challenge with collaboration is that it drains resources, but doesn’t always have immediate benefits. It takes time, space, and money to bring people together and change their behaviours, especially in a large organization. Implementing a collaborative approach to work can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to change the focus from individual accomplishment to team success. A CMS is only the first step to encouraging collaboration in the workplace, but what if you need to collaborate on data? In this case, a CMS won’t be enough to allow others to access the data that they need.

From these challenges, we have identified a few tips that will help you take the first steps towards collaboration, and turn your team into a more engaging and dynamic organization.

Encourage Open Communication

A pivotal part of collaboration is effective communication. Effective communication is critical to ensuring the success of team effort, whether the team is charged with creating a new product, making improvements, or planning future enhancements. When team communication skills are strong it raises the chance that good ideas and best practices will be shared openly.

Collaboration removes the limits of bringing people together, beyond the traditional departments and organizations. In order to be productive working collaboratively, you need to get rid of working in silos, both physically and mentally. This can come in the form of more open office space or sharing ideas through meetings and files.The beauty of opening up communication lines is that it allows more transparency between different members and efficiency will come of it.

Don't Rush It

Transitioning a team from an individualistic culture to a collaborative culture won’t happen overnight. Push your team too hard and you’ll kill the impulse to share. It’s an ongoing process that will take time, but will bring you and your team great benefits. Building relationships and trust happens over time, but there are ways that you can further push this process. Start introducing collaboration in situations that require imagination, structure, and the voluntary sharing of knowledge and ideas. This can happen through brainstorming meetings, coming up with ideas for a project, or even through file sharing online. As your team becomes more comfortable with the idea of working together, you’ll find that everyone becomes more creative and builds stronger relationships.

Use a Collaboration Tool

Emails are not productive and they’re not great to use for collaboration. Why? Email will only hurt your productivity when it comes to collaboration because of the delay between responses and the clutter in inboxes when you receive too many. Instead, look into using a collaboration tool.

Collaboration tools have made it easier for people to connect from around the world, or wherever they may be. Communication lines have never been so accessible and open as they are now because of the Internet, and it’s time to take advantage of that. Collaboration is a behaviour, but technology aids in fostering collaborative behaviours. Collaboration tools, in particular, are a place where information can be stored over a cloud connection. Administrators can give certain people access to a community portal where they can access the data they need. This way, they are able to collaborate together quickly and efficiently. Collaboration tools improve the efficiency of business processes by allowing storage and access to data in one centralized and highly-secured location instead of sending delayed emails back and forth constantly. Other benefits of implementing a portal solution for collaboration include:

  • Saving travel and communication costs
  • Faster access to knowledge and decision-making
  • Secure place to store information
  • Collaborate in real-time
  • Overall increase in team satisfaction

Establishing a collaboration policy is just the beginning. In order for all these tips to be effective, it needs to be consistent with resources dedicated to making it successful. Progressive companies are increasingly realizing the value of collaboration and are looking for ways to foster it within their teams, both traditional and virtual. If you want to see your business boom and turn your team into productive superheroes, it’s time you fostered a collaborative spirit among them.

Ryan Cramer

Ryan Cramer Author

Ryan Cramer is lead developer of the ProcessWire open source CMS/CMF.

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