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6 Steps to Improve Project Collaboration

 

  • A study by Queens University revealed that 39 percent of respondents to their survey felt that organizations did not collaborate enough.
  • The same study revealed that 75 percent of employees rated teamwork and collaboration as “very important.”
  • A Salesforce survey of more than 1400 corporate executives, employees and educators believed a lack of collaboration was responsible for workplace failures.
  • A McKinsey study showed that knowledge workers spend 14 percent of their workweek collaborating. The same study showed that improving the climate for collaboration could increase productivity by 22 to 25 percent.

Workplaces can do more to help employees work together to accomplish tasks. Leaders could be costing companies a lot of revenue by not facilitating effective project collaboration opportunities.

Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Effective Communication

 

 

Part 1
6 Benefits of Effective Project Collaboration

  1. Employee Engagement

    Worldwide, only 15 percent of employees are engaged. Managers can build an atmosphere of unity and teamwork by encouraging collaboration. It can influence employees to step away from disengagement and join their colleagues.

  2. Increased Productivity

    With more people working on the same page, teams can get a lot done. More people are available to handle a lot of different tasks which can make work more streamlined with increased productivity.

  3. Pushes a Company Toward Its Goals

    Team collaboration can inch a company even closer to meeting the company’s goals and objectives. When employees work by themselves, some projects may not be done as quickly. Working together with others can allow workers to get things done a lot faster.

  4. Increased Involvement of Remote Workers

    Effective project collaboration practices can help home-based workers feel they are not isolated from office-based employees. They can work more efficiently with others and handle projects with increased flexibility.

  5. More Personal Interactions

    While employees come to work for business, it does not hurt for them to also have personal connections. These bonds can increase engagement and performance as workers are likely to experience more satisfaction. This can be great for morale.

  6. A Diversity of Ideas

    The more people involved in a project, the more skills and talents that are brought to the plan. This diversity of opinions can bring creativity and innovation to a project, and enrich team members.

While there are a lot of benefits, there are also challenges to effective project collaboration. From miscommunications to faulty technology, there are a lot of factors that can adversely impact project collaboration.

Part 2
6 Steps to Improve Project Collaboration

  1. Discover Where the Gaps Are

    — Are employees working in silos?
    — Are employees willing to collaborate but unable to find the tools to support it?
    — Is there conflict and problems between co-workers that would prevent collaboration?
    Leaders need to do their best to find out what is prohibiting teams from working together.

  2. Find the Right Tools

    — Email may not be cutting it. Can management install a new project collaboration tool?
    — Do employees need to have the ability to speak with one another?
    — Do they need file sharing and the ability to work on a project simultaneously?
    All of these are essential elements to consider when leaders are identifying collaboration tools to help better employees work together.

  3. See Where the Organization Can Adopt a Culture of Communication

    — Many times, senior leadership can come off as closed off to contact.
    — Leaders need to lead by example and show that they were willing to be transparent and open to working with one another, senior leaders need to show they are willing to talk with employees about concerns as well.
    — This will inspire and motivate employees to do the same thing.

  4. Only Have Meetings When Necessary

    — A good project team has a synergy. Unfortunately, this can quickly become interrupted when there are too many meetings.
    — Long sessions can decrease employee productivity and morale.
    — Leaders need to be careful not to schedule meetings unless they are necessary.
    — All meetings should follow an agreed-on agenda that does not deviate.
    — Teams cannot be effective in their work if they are not allowed the chance to work without interruption.

  5. Be Transparent

    — Everyone should be privy to the same knowledge.
    — Leaders have to be open about project details and client expectations. This will ensure collaboration can more easily occur.
    — Ensure there is no information silos.

  6. Always Put Professional Development Front and Center

    — Employees can always benefit from training.
    — Learning how to handle different opinions, managing conflict, staying organized, and leadership are topics that workers (and leaders) can always stand to receive more training.
    — The more skills and talents are developed, the better quality of work that will be produced.

Part 3
Project Collaboration Best Practices

  • Allow Employees the Opportunity to Slow down and Think

    Most of us work in a fast-paced workplace. Everything is urgent, and priorities topple on top of one another. However, excellent and quality work cannot be rushed. Teams need the opportunity to have the time to think through issues and collaborate to come up with solutions. If they are always being pressured or rushed, teams will not have the time to do their best work.

  • Don’t Require Teams to Have One Way to Approach Problems

    Everyone has something to bring to the table. There should not be a “right way” or a “wrong way” to solve a problem. Teams should be encouraged to work together to establish methods that work best.

  • Hire People Who Consider Teamwork Important

    Everyone does not work best in highly collaborative settings. Some people work best alone, and others might need a balance between working alone and working with teams. Leaders need to be mindful of this when they are hiring employees. If project collaboration is going to be a significant part of each employee’s job, then they need to hire individuals who exemplify this trait.

  • Develop a Plan for Cross-Training

    It never hurts for workers to be aware of the duties and skills that co-workers are engaged in. This helps them to become more empathetic and understanding of the time it may take for others to finish tasks, and it also allows employees to speak the same “work language” as colleagues. If you are a finance person, and you have to work with someone in IT, understanding their work day and lingo can help collaboration flow a lot easier. Cross-training can also help employees “walk in someone else’s shoes.” This can help to develop empathy and encourage employees to be more understanding of one another.

  • Reward Excellent Collaboration

    If teams have figured out how they best communicate with each other and organize their collaborations, then leaders should reward them. They should set an example by acknowledging teams who have figured out how to work together to accomplish goals. Not only does it motivate other employees, but it can also make workers feel appreciated by knowing their work matters. Working with others can be difficult and challenging, so leaders should do all they can to say “thank you,” for putting differences aside and listening to others.

  • Make Active Listening a Priority

    Cultivating a culture of communication is critical, but the promotion listening is even more important. Team members cannot work together if they do not have the skills to listen to one another actively. Project collaboration may hinge on this skill. Therefore, leaders should model it, and everyone should receive training on how to do it better. This skill will strengthen teams and enhance their communication skills.

  • Establish Digital “Town Halls”

    Instead of meetings, leaders can establish weekly town halls where different teams can update management on the progress of their projects, and they can inform the leadership of any issues where they may need extra support. These should be digital, so anyone (including remote workers) can participate anywhere in the world.

A workplace is the home of various personalities and work styles. This alone makes collaboration difficult. However, the studies have shown that collaboration does a lot more good than harm. Each worker and their corresponding department has something to bring to the table. Therefore, they need to be given the opportunity to work together as seamlessly as possible.

Having effective collaboration can make or break a project, so teamwork has to be a skill that hiring managers are looking for in workers. Also, living and working in a more digital society requires companies to look at project collaboration tools that can help teams accomplish more. With an increase in remote workers, and employees coming from various cultures leaders have to make efficient workplace collaboration a priority. However, at the heart of collaboration is communication. If workers are not good communicators or listeners, then collaboration will be nearly impossible. Workers have to understand where each other is coming from and strive to do what they can to meet project goals. Leaders can help by setting a workplace culture that values clear communication, transparency, and empathy.

Here is how status.net helps:

How to use status.net to improve project collaboration

  1. Leadership communication:
    a) Build trust and improve company culture by sharing regular updates and how reasoning behind your decisions is connected to your company values.
    b) Share information about company announcements, branch news, new hires, etc.
    c) Share company goals and objectives regularly.
  2. Team communication:
    a) Easily implement daily or weekly status updates for your team members by creating a status feed “How did you contribute to the team’s goals this week?”. Use comments section and emoji to show appreciation and acknowledge a job well done.
    Seven out of ten employees who receive appreciation for their work say they’re happy with their jobs“.
    b) Create automated scheduled questionnaires with questions like “How can we improve?“.
    Status.net allows you to configure granular access permissions to set up who can view the answers (optional).
  3. For recurrent questionnaires: no one forgets to answer because status.net sends automated reminders according to the recurrence schedule you chose.
  4. Increase workplace satisfaction by improving transparency: Each status update has a separate section for comments, which is used by team members to clarify information, including upcoming goals, and by leaders to provide feedback and coordinate better without micromanagement.
  5. Use status updates for future reference and decrease time and efforts spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
  6. Optionally, enrich reports with the latest updates automatically added from web apps your team uses (such as project management tools, version control systems, support systems, financial applications, CRM, etc.) by connecting these apps to your status feed.
  7. Spend less time on meetings by making them more productive because everyone is on the same page at all times.
  8. Sharing: Status updates can be either— exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
    — shared with manager online; or
    — shared online as company-wide or team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other.

How to configure status updates:

Step 1:

  • Create a “Status Update” feed and set up a recurrence.
  • Configure who will write and read status updates by choosing the “Participants” tab and then clicking the “Cog” button near “Feed Participants” title.
how to create status updates status feed

Options:

  • Set the status feed as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s status updates.
  • Alternatively, you can allow access to status updates for certain participants only (such as yourself if you’re a team lead). In this case, turn “Team-wide” mode OFF and restrict viewing by unchecking “View” properties for other participants. Team members with the “View” checkbox unchecked will only be able to view their own status updates.
  • If you’re a manager and you don’t plan to share your status updates with your team, uncheck “Update” for yourself – in this case, you won’t receive reminders.
  • The Recurrence setting configures how often participants receive email reminders to fill in their status updates. This feature is optional and can be turned off.
  • You can add, remove, and assign new team members at any time.

Step 2: The text of the status update should be added to the “Update” field of status feed.

how to add an update to status report

As soon as a new status update is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time when they log in to their accounts. They will also automatically receive emails with the full text of status updates.

Done!

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