Believe it or not, we collaborate every single day without even knowing it. We coordinate our diaries with our partners to get the kids off to school and we make dinner so our significant other washes the dishes. But workplace collaboration is slightly different than in our personal lives because it forces us to consider the views and actions of our colleagues, some of whom we do not know very well. Collaboration is super important because it allows the people around us to be heard and helps to complete tasks quickly and effectively. It is arguably even more vital for founders of startups because they need to work together with outside sources, including investors, to make their business succeed.
1. Active Listening
If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Apprentice, you’ll know what bad listening is and the effect it can have on the team and the end product. As leaders, we can sometimes get caught up in our own ideas and forget to consider the opinions of those around us. Active listening forces us to not only hear the words of others but take them in and give feedback. It also means taking in non-verbal signals and reading between the lines!
Having an open mind is important in all areas of life, including business. Being able to welcome criticism and be open to new ideas is essential if your startup is going to be a success. Open-mindedness also means being able to accept that you may have made a mistake and being open to suggestions to fix it. The best leaders are the ones that know that they are not always right!
3. Multidisciplinary Approach
Often in business, we are required to collaborate not only within our core team but with outside sources too. Some people find this difficult as it can be hard to trust people you don’t know very well, but it is necessary to get the best out of your company. Working with people you don’t know often requires us to take a more professional approach. Remember: you are working for them just as much as they’re working for you.
4. Clear Goals
When working within a team, it is important to identify clear goals. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and knows what they’re doing. Having no aims and objectives can cause anxiety and confusion within the team and result in an end product that doesn’t satisfy you or your consumers.
5. Professional Relationships
The best teams are built on hard work and trust. But trust needs to be developed and nurtured. Some of the best ways to do this are by holding team building days, where members of your team can relax and bond over silly games and activities. You can also carve out time for one-to-one catchups, giving your employees the opportunity to come to you with any burning questions they might have.
6. Strengths and Weaknesses
Sometimes it can feel awkward to point out people’s strengths and weaknesses, but by doing so you’re enabling your team to be the best it can be! After all, there’s no point having Sharon heading up market research when she’s amazing at designing artwork for your brand. Part of identifying a person’s strengths is by listening to them. Members of your team often know how they can best support you!
7. Making it Fun
No one wants to be part of a dull project. Even if the task isn’t the most exciting in the world, you can always find ways of making it an enjoyable experience for all involved. Find creative ways of brainstorming ideas and make team meetings fun by creating games for everyone to play!
8. Managing Conflict
Conflict is one of the worst things that can damage a team and the product you’re trying to make. However, sometimes it’s unavoidable (again, we’ve all seen those fights on The Apprentice). If conflict is inevitable, we must have strategies for managing it. If the conflict is about a specific issue, speak to each person individually, don’t make assumptions and be fair to everyone. Once the issue has been resolved, check in again with each person to ensure there aren’t any lingering feelings. Remember, conflict can easily escalate so it’s down to the leader to ensure it doesn’t get out of control and start affecting the work.
Team meetings are a large part of team collaboration. They can involve anywhere between two and one hundred people and cover a whole range of topics. But how do you get the best out of them? Sometimes it’s good to have an agenda; a list of topics you feel it’s important to cover. However, don’t forget to give lots of opportunities for each member of your team to speak up. They might have a query but not know how to ask, so it’s important to be approachable as well as professional.
It can sometimes be tempting not to disclose everything to your team. Maybe an investor has had to pull out of a project, or maybe one of your products has to be withdrawn from the shelf. But being transparent is not only about sharing the good news, but the bad as well. It’s important for members of your core team to be aware of everything they need to know so they can grow as individuals and help you make your business amazing!