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If there’s one buzzword heard more than any other in today’s workplace, I’d be willing to bet it could be “collaboration”… and no wonder. Collaboration serves a very important purpose in today’s operations, which is why establishing the processes that encourage it makes sense for your business’ well-being.

Let’s examine what really makes collaboration, well, collaboration, and how you can encourage such habits in your own business.

Separating Teamwork and Collaboration

First thing’s first, we need to establish that—while closely related—teamwork and collaboration are not the same thing. While there is no collaboration without teamwork, teamwork is possible without technically collaborating.

Consider the bucket brigade. Once upon a time, when a fire broke out, that was the preferred method to extinguish it—passing buckets of water up a line to the flame that needed to be put out. By lining people up to pass the buckets down, the people involved were all collaborating toward the goal of putting out the fire. Now, consider the alternative: everyone running back and forth with their own bucket, waiting for their turn to refill as the fire blazes on.

Teamwork, sure, but nothing collaborative about a frantic free-for-all.

Teamwork is the combined action of a group. Collaboration is the act of combining a team’s resources to accomplish each step of a given action.

Here are a few other ways to tell an example of teamwork, from an example of true collaboration:

  • There’s a tendency for a team to have a set leader to set the course of whatever project is being worked on, while collaboration thrives in an egalitarian group setting.
  • Teamwork can be effective in completing a business’ short-term goals, while long-term goals are better served by collaborative behaviors.
  • As we hinted at, teamwork requires someone to be in control of the group. Collaboration requires the group’s members to trust one another.

The Benefits of Collaboration in Action

Embracing collaboration brings universal advantages that you can enjoy.

Improved Operations

Why have one person working on a problem, when you have a whole team of people who could all think of a solution? With a workplace culture steeped in collaborative habits, problem-solving becomes much easier. Employee engagement also goes up, allowing you to enjoy side effects like increased revenue, greater productivity, fewer mishaps, and less turnover.

Satisfied Employees

Collaboration can also have a marked effect on the experience your employees have in the workplace. In addition to the knowledge-sharing capabilities that collaboration encourages, employee relationships can improve. This isn’t nothing—office friendships have been identified as one of the most important components of employee satisfaction. One survey ranked it as most important to 70 percent of workers. Collaboration also offers the benefit of increased morale, which itself brings better productivity and heighted retention rates.

What You Can Do to Encourage Collaboration

Endorsing collaboration in your office doesn’t need to be too difficult. In fact, there are a few simple methods that have proven very effective.

Bring Your Team Together with a Shared Mission and Expectations

If it weren’t for your team, your company couldn’t be as successful as it is. Make sure that they understand their value to the organization, and how their responsibilities play into those of the larger group. This is made easier with a shared company goal (also known as its mission).

By establishing this mission, you can then set the benchmarks and objectives that your team needs to meet and assign your team members with the appropriate responsibilities to do so.

Enable Innovative Collaboration Through Encouragement

Make sure that, as your team works to implement their newly collaborative processes, you are showing them your enthusiasm for their efforts. This will only encourage them to continue their adoption of them. You should also consider being equally encouraging toward any innovative ideas that your team members may have. Who knows—your team member may have discovered a way to complete a task more productively. If not, you’ll at least have confirmed that the status quo is the better option for you in the moment. Don’t be afraid to encourage input from those with hands-on experience.

Provide Tools for Collaboration

Perhaps obviously, your different employees are going to have different contributions to bring the table. Maybe someone is good at placating an irate caller, while someone else is particularly adept at organizing processes within your management software. Don’t be afraid to give these jobs to these people while giving them more opportunities to work together using your collaborative solutions. With many still working remotely, these tools are crucial to far more organizations than ever before. Give your team access to these tools and make the most of their capabilities.

If you’re in need of collaborative technologies or the strategies to put them in place, reach out to TAP Tech at 203-744-9760. Our team is ready to help.

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