How would you define collaboration? Is it simply the act of working together towards a common goal? Undoubtedly, this is the basic definition, but collaboration is something more than just this. It’s a chance to gain new insights, share expertise and find new inspiring ways to solve problems and deliver efficient solutions.
Effective collaboration is what makes teams and companies grow. Without it, any project will take ages to complete and the results will not be satisfactory, to say the least. In this day and age, good collaboration practices are a must also due to the growing popularity of remote work. As companies employ people based in different locations, they need to make sure teams have good conditions to collaborate effectively and stay productive.
Even though it’s so important to take care of successful collaboration, it’s also extremely challenging. There are many difficulties that may get in the way and they are not to be underestimated. What are the problems that can occur and what how to overcome them?
Teams consist of people who are often very different from one another and whose points of view and mindsets may vary considerably. This, in turn, can lead to conflicts, which may severely disrupt effective collaboration. It is completely normal that people who work together are not always best friends. They may have different personalities, working habits as well as varying levels of emotional intelligence. The thing is, that none of the above should interfere with their collaboration.
Open communication is the key to solving any interpersonal problem. Team members should have the habit of discussing issues that arise on a regular basis rather than wait until it’s too late. Of course, it’s important to know how to form teams so that they are well matched, but it’s not possible to avoid these kind of difficulties altogether. That’s why it’s helpful to give team members opportunities to confront their points of view and never let any conflict remain unresolved.
Since remote work is growing in popularity, apart from the numerous benefits of the solution, there are also barriers to collaboration. Teamwork in dispersed teams is challenging and requires a clear set of rules and appropriate tools to increase efficiency. It might be the case that the flow of information is not working properly or that team members don’t communicate as much as they should. This, in turn, can result in projects taking longer than anticipated and being a source of many frustrations.
There are many things that should be taken care of for dispersed teams to collaborate effectively. A very important one is undoubtedly an efficient collaboration tool that should facilitate the team’s work. Ideally, it should be a task management tool, which allows to follow the workflow on a regular basis and be able to keep up with any changes, but it should also enable smooth communication in real time. Both of the features are available in HeySpace, a two-in-one collaboration tool.
It might happen that there are too many decision-makers at once or that they find it difficult to provide solutions. Also, sometimes those in charge have very different views and opinions. As a result, the whole process gets chaotic and no one really knows what to do. It can either lead to delayed deadlines or numerous changes along the way. Or both.
This problem is quite difficult to overcome, because decision-makers are usually those in charge of a project or even the whole company and it’s them who should actually set rules and provide improvements. But it might be the case that decision makers are, for instance, stakeholders. In such a case a good solution is to facilitate the decision process by proposing ideas and asking them to choose instead of having them say what to do. If decision-makers are product or project managers – well, then it’s time to rethink if they are the right people for the role.
This problem is oftentimes mentioned in the context of small companies, but it quite often affects big organisations as well. What is it, actually? It’s a situation when certain departments or teams do not share information with others in the company. Instead they believe it’s best to work in their little silos and don’t make the effort to collaborate across teams and share the responsibility. It results in lack of productivity, repeating the same tasks by different people or teams and reduced efficiency.
To overcome this problem, it’s vital that the communication between teams is taken care of. It’s also important to make sure that everyone in the company is on the same page and has the information they need. For team leaders and supervisors, it’s necessary to coordinate work in an efficient way and communicate with one another. The next step is to assign tasks to specific people and teams and give everyone a chance to see the big picture. A good way to organise everything is to make use of efficient task management software.
The phase of project planning is very important for all the next phases. The work should be estimated accurately, when it comes to the budget, time and the people involved. It might be the case that there are too many people participating in a project. The workload is not accurately distributed and the team members are not as productive as they could be. Also, the roles and responsibilities might not be as clear as they should. Not to mention the communication among the people involved, which is additionally difficult when there’s too many of them.
The most important thing is to be particularly thorough at the very beginning of a project and put enough effort into planning the workflow. Also, it’s vital to make sure that the workload is accurately distributed as the project goes on. If, at any point, there’s too many people involved, it might be necessary to reconsider the roles and responsibilities and maybe introduce some changes.
Now you know the most popular barriers to collaboration and how to overcome them. What problems concerning collaboration do you come across? Share in the comments and let’s look for solutions together!