Photo by Flickr User 드림포유, Licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Stop, collaborate and listen” - these are part of the lyrics of the classic 90’s hit “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. This exclamation is simple, yet strangely great advice for businesses. Workplace collaboration is extremely important for every business that wants not to just survive, but be successful in a globalized and highly competitive world.
Staying on the topic of music, let’s look at some music collaborations. Some combined two completely different artists together and they still made it work:
Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “Say Say Say”
And others turned well-known songs into something completely new and unexpected:
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, “Anything Goes”
These are just two examples of a long list of great music collaborations in history, but they show that effective collaboration can produce something unique and extremely successful. And this is why we need more effective collaboration and teamwork in the workplace, too.
Dictionaries often define ‘collaboration’ as working with someone in order to achieve or create something. In business collaboration means that a group of people work together and exchange their ideas to find a solution to a problem or create something new, thus create value for the company.
4 Tips for Better Workplace Collaboration
Communication is important in every part of life. In business, effective communication can make the difference between success and failure of a project or even the whole organization. It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. It’s a give and take between two or more people. This means that it’s not just one person standing in front of a white board telling others about his or her own ideas without taking in theirs, but it’s about sharing ideas. Sharing your thoughts and ideas with others and listening to their ideas can develop new and even better ones. So, once again, “stop, collaborate and listen.”
Team members often have their own area of expertise, which is precisely why they are part of the team. But technical knowledge alone is not sufficient for collaboration. The team members need to get the time to get to know each other personally and build trust. Only when team members know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, then they can work together efficiently and productively.
Teams often tend to be comprised of like-minded people, or people with the same skills and knowledge level. This can lead to stagnation, because the team thinks so alike that they can’t come up with new ideas. A team with diverse team members, i.e. people from different departments, people with different skill and knowledge sets, people from different cultures etc., can bring in new perspectives and open up new possibilities.
In our InLoox Work-Life-Balance Survey (PDF) we have already highlighted how important acknowledgement and appreciation is for an employee’s well-being at work and outside of it. This also affects effective collaboration. If a team member feels that others value their work, they will feel more motivated and more encouraged to contribute new ideas to the team. So a team leader should actively acknowledge good work and criticism should be given in a respectful and constructive way.