The cost of poor communication at the workplace has cost companies a staggering $37 billion, according to a report from Holmes.
In other words, the simple ability to work together as a team is crucial to a company’s overall success. This has only become increasingly clear as the remote work world and the gig economy have come into existence, bringing teammates together — often across the globe — as they attempt to collaborate on projects.
If you find that your company struggles to demonstrate high-quality teamwork on a regular basis, you’re not alone. Here are a few suggestions for boosting your company’s collaboration and communication efforts before they begin to undermine your organization’s productivity, efficiency, and morale.
Start with Your Company Culture
If you’re a leader looking to increase your company’s ability to work as a team, you absolutely must learn to lead by example.
A manager who speaks about teamwork and then spends his days holed up in his office on personal projects hardly sets a communication example for others to follow. An executive who exhorts her team to collaborate and then fails to delegate or work with others as peers will only come across as a hypocrite.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your company’s teamwork, make sure to start at the top. Only then can you expect to cultivate a trickle-down culture of collaboration.
Equip Yourself with the Right Collaboration Tools
Along with your company culture, it’s essential to equip your employees with the ability to effortlessly communicate and seamlessly collaborate whenever it’s required. While the remote work world initially threw up some barriers for professional teams trying to operate smoothly, these challenges have, by and large, been overcome.
At this point, there are numerous applications that enable teams to remain entirely in sync throughout the duration of a project. For example, the aptly titled company Teamwork’s project management software enables you to collect your teammates’ efforts into a single source of truth. That means you have a single online location where all of your teams can compile their efforts, updates, files, and communication about a single project.
Using a tool like this — especially a SaaS option that’s easily accessible from anywhere and that perpetually maintains the most current version of your projects — enables your team to always be on the same page.
Set Up Communication Guidelines
In addition to a collaboration tool like Teamwork, it’s important to make an effort to create clear communication guidelines for your teams. There are numerous communication platforms available, from email threads to Slack, Zoom, Skype, and Doodle. Many of these vary in their approach to communication; some are text-driven, while others utilize audio. Still others rely on video.
Whatever you choose to use, it’s important to establish clear internal communication channels. Make sure your team members know where to go to send and receive communications on a regular basis. Emphasize how they can best stay organized in their communication.
Look for Ways to Bond
If your team members are going to collaborate efficiently, it’s important for them to feel comfortable with one another. This can be especially challenging for remote teams that lack the ability to hobnob at the office or get together for a social outing. However, there are plenty of ways to work around this problem.
For instance, you can help your team better communicate simply by using a communication tool like Slack to bring everyone together in a virtual space. Once gathered, initiate conversation by asking simple questions and throwing out ice breakers to help foster a sense of community and togetherness.
Taking advantage of informal virtual meet-and-greets can help your team connect and provide plenty of opportunities for you to highlight each team member’s individuality and what each person uniquely brings to a project.
Clearly Communicate Vision and Goals
You can also increase your team’s effectiveness by taking the communication lead and making sure that everyone fully understands the C-suite’s vision, goals, and roles for a particular project. Nothing deflates a team quite so much as having an aimless objective. According to Achievers, 61% of employees don’t even know their company’s mission.
While leadership may consider a project clearly defined, if leaders don’t communicate this to their teams, it can often lead to a feeling of resentful commitment and a chronic lack of momentum.
However, if you take the time to lay out concrete goals, set benchmarks, and communicate objectives and roles, your team will be able to fully grasp what it is they’re working on — and that clear focus automatically equates to higher levels of teamwork and productivity.
Empower Your Employees
If you want your team to commit to a project, it’s important that you treat teammates like part of the project. Simply assigning tasks, listing expectations, and laying out demands can quickly stifle a team’s desire to produce.
However, if you make an effort to delegate responsibilities, encourage involvement, and praise and reward success, you’ll be able to foster a sense of investment in your team. Rather than view a project as “the company’s,” they’ll begin to see it as their own and naturally invest themselves in the success of the project. In fact, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered and do their best work.
Whether you’re empowering your employees, helping them bond, or equipping them with communication and collaboration tools, there are plenty of ways to bring your teammates together to enable them to succeed. However, success always starts at the top, with leadership that’s willing to set an example and model a culture of collaborative success. If that example is properly set, the rest will easily fall into place.