Q: How do you best encourage collaboration among your team members?
A: Keep discussions focused and everyone informed. “Once there are more than three or four people discussing things, the amount of time lost starts to mount up. Collaborations are similar. Small teams (of two to three) can make something shine, but there are diminishing returns. Beyond this, it is great to keep everyone up to date with what people are doing to avoid duplication of work. Tools like Slack or Yammer can also help.” Ben Gamble, Quincus
Build a culture of connectivity. “Collaboration is an expectation, and teamwork is required internally and with client teams. Communication is key. Everything we do involves teamwork and there are many moving parts. Being a veteran-owned business, collaboration is embedded in our company culture. Team lunches, meetings, emails, and utilizing all forms of communication are helpful.” Angela Delmedico, Elev8 Consulting Group
Encourage communication. “The biggest problems I’ve seen in the workplace have always tied back to one thing: People don’t talk to one another. An employee might complain about another at the water cooler without ever talking to the person he has a problem with. Make it clear that employees are expected to sit down and talk their problems out in a reasoned fashion and work to resolve any interpersonal issues that arise.” Steven Buchwald, The E2 Visa Lawyer
Host team lunches. “Every month, we have a team lunch in order to discuss what we have accomplished and enjoy ourselves. I pay for the lunch and all team members are given the opportunity to talk about work, anything non-related to work, and pretty much form closer ties with each other. I have found that team lunches have improved collaboration almost 20 percent.” Ajmal Saleem, Suprex Learning
Make it about specific goals. “Making conversations and communication proactive when it comes to work means demonstrating the culture you want in the company when it comes to feedback and iterating towards improvement, and even in the most challenging times. Always take five minutes to build rapport and sync with each other as humans first.” Arry Yu, GiftStarter.com
Distribute a brainstorming agenda a few days before meetings. “When we have collaboration or brainstorming meetings, I will email what it is we are going to discuss a few days ahead of time. That way, everyone has ample time to research, think about, and write down whatever comes to mind. In a few days’ time, you can come up with way more than you ordinarily would firing off random questions. Having that time to stew helps quite a bit.” Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Give your office an open layout. “We have an open office layout at Socialfly, which encourages collaboration and teamwork. We also schedule times to brainstorm as a team, which always gets the creative juices flowing.” Stephanie Cartin, Socialfly