Working in teams is an unavoidable part of office life. Teams exist to help employees generate ideas, share the workload and create results that wouldn’t be possible with one person working alone. However great a team can be, sometimes they can struggle to get moving.
How can employees better share ideas and accomplish a common goal? Below, 12 professionals have shared their ideas for improving collaboration in the workplace.
Create Different Platforms to Encourage Collaboration
Two of our core values are “collaborate” and “get better.” We believe our employees can help us continue to improve as a company by openly sharing their ideas with their leaders and their teammates. We encourage collaboration through individual one-on-one meetings, department meetings, company-wide leadership talks and even company-wide Slack channels. Our goal is to provide platforms for our employees to ask questions, share ideas and help us innovate in different ways so everyone has the opportunity to share in a way they’re comfortable with.
Heather Marcom, Freedom Financial Network
Be Clear, Give Feedback and Share the Big Picture
Three ways we inspire our team to better share ideas to accomplish common goals are:
- We are very clear about our purpose as an organization – we do not waiver from our truth.
- We are of the mindset that none of us needs to be sick to get better, so we have an ongoing feedback loop
- Always sharing the big picture with our team. It’s our belief that if our team doesn’t clearly understand where we currently are and where we are headed, it will be tough to get there. A clear roadmap increases efficiencies and outcomes.
Sherri Mitchell, All About People
Understand the Overall Mission
The goal needs to be crystal clear and measurable, then it needs to be communicated clearly to everyone. Employees need to understand four key things:
- How will achievement of this goal (or not achieving it) impact the organization?
- What are the results we are looking for and how will we measure that?
- Who is responsible for what?
- What does working towards this common goal mean to me?
In order to achieve any specific goal within an organization it is important that everyone has a fundamental understanding of, and passion for, the overall mission of the organization. People that understand their shared purpose are more likely to collaborate effectively towards common goals and work together more efficiently.
Beth Gross, Spear Education
Centralized Project Management Tool
Project management tools, like Asana, bring teams together to accomplish a common goal. Team members can share ideas, update statuses, and collaborate to get the job done as a team. For any startup or small business who has recently gone remote, a top priority should be getting a project management tool set up to support your team’s collaboration.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Avoid Hierarchies When It Comes to Idea Sharing
I think engendering a feeling of openness and also confidence throughout the company is key. Employees need to feel that any suggestions they make are valuable and will be listened to. We try to avoid boundaries or hierarchies when it comes to idea sharing, in that we encourage contributions from employees throughout the business, no matter the level of their role or department. No ideas are bad and no employee should be made to feel their idea has been invalidated.
Rosalind Smith, Mauve Group
Synchronous and Asynchronous Opportunities
Often, the best ideas occur organically and are not always in a scheduled meeting. Thus, teams need an opportunity to share ideas both in synchronous (e.g. whiteboard session) or asynchronous (e.g. chat or internal blog) fashion. Both methods need a facilitator to initiate or drive discussion in a timely fashion, and tools that are appropriate for the setting (e.g. virtual whiteboard for distributed teams). Lastly, and most importantly, is psychological safety. This is the key ingredient that enables employees to freely share their passion and creativity.
Philip Botha, Culture Advantage
Help Your Team Find Their Rhythm
Have your team establish their own system of idea-sharing, whether it be writing everything on a board or verbal brainstorm. When a team finds their “rhythm,” it is much easier to facilitate sharing ideas and collaboration, especially when the team creates it themselves. It also gives them a sense of autonomy that encourages creative problem-solving. As long as the system works for them, there’s no need to micromanage and you’ll see a positive return.
Court Will, Will & Will
Celebrating wins and acknowledging each other’s roles in the success of a milestone or project helps cultivate trust and respect among team members. Set milestones and make it a habit to celebrate small wins, not just the completion of big projects. This will encourage team members to keep working together on projects and will inspire more collaboration.
Joe Newstrom, Arrow Lift
Create a Comfortable Environment
Make your entire work environment a welcoming place for new ideas. Employees will never feel comfortable sharing their ideas until they feel comfortable and welcome at work as a whole. Encourage sharing fun stories or provide examples of times when someone’s idea led to something wonderful.
Francesca Yardley, Threads
Proactive and regular communication helps create a culture for sharing ideas and working together to accomplish common goals.
Amy Hart, Farmers Insurance
What Is Beneficial for All?
Employees can share ideas and have common goals by coming together and liaising on what type of endeavor would be beneficial to all of them. This can be done by announcing that everyone is required to suggest an idea, which they can do together for their overall gain. Once everyone has presented their ideas, they can sit and discuss which of them are the best for the company. After narrowing down on one or several, they can start pursuing them together.
James Jason, Mitrade
Must-Do’s Versus Could-Do’s
Our team works in four week cycles, which means we make a list of “must-dos” at the beginning of the month, and treat everything else as a “could-do.” This approach means that every team member knows their part, and the importance of completing it. You also know that you can expect other team members to complete their projects too. In this way, ideas that are shared become a reality, with the combined effort and a strong common goal.
Michael Alexis, Teambuilding