What is Collaboration and how do you do it well?

What makes good collaboration in a digital workplace? Collaboration is a process by which a group of people constructively explore their ideas in search of a solution. Today, as fast as organisations move, anyone working in isolation mode only puts companies at a disadvantage. This is why meetings and collaboration tools have become so important.

Good collaboration leads to the type of results that businesses need in order to survive. But how do we ensure that this happens? How do we do it well considering all of the different personality dynamics, skill sets and experiences in a team?

Here are a few real-world tips that will help improve collaboration in your workplace.

1. Communicate expectations

Make it clear that collaboration is the minimum standard. From there, define roles and responsibilities, especially for weekly meetings: “Who’s facilitating it? Who’s jotting down the next steps? Who's executing that task?” More often than not, overlapping or unclear roles lead to confusion and wasted effort. Every team member should understand their position and what is expected of them. In a collaborative environment, this is crucial.

2. Automate more tasks

Want to know the secret of getting more done? Reduce the amount of decisions you have to make throughout the day. If everyone in the company did this, imagine the speed at which the company could grow. This is also why Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wears the same outfit every day. It simplifies his day and reduces decision fatigue.

The counterintuitive secret to getting things done is to make decisions more automatic, so they require less energy. The same applies with collaboration. A team works well when everyone has built-in routines and habits, all of which contributes to cohesion. The goal is to get to the point where you're not deciding. You're just doing—and doing it well.

3. Build an online workspace, together

If you want real team collaboration, then you should work together at the very beginning of a project. It's smart to identify the structure, learn the team's software, and hear each other out.

Listen to everyone's opinions, questions, and concerns and use that to craft your ideal online workspace. This process will lead to increased accountability and positive outcomes.

4. Understand the value of conflict

Conflict is important. And depending on how you handle it—can expose new or hard-to-solve problems, help co-workers improve their performance, create engagement amongst the team, help bring people closer together, and more.

When your employees are allowed to speak freely and not shy away from conflict, it can even improve their morale. In order to collaborate effectively, everyone should be allowed to speak freely. This will make workers feel more valued. When an employee feels heard (and that their opinion is important), they will feel more motivated and comfortable in the organisation.

You should also identify who's responsible for each decision. Is the agenda item a group decision? Does everyone need to agree? Will it be majority vote wins? Lack of clarity here leads to false assumptions, endless discussions, and wasted time.

5. Be kind when mistakes happen

As we all know, a good manager sets the tone for their team. But if you aren't transparent, and never open up, then don't expect your co-workers to do it either. Is vulnerability the same as weakness? In our culture, we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of creativity, respect, and authenticity.

It's imperative that we allow team members to kindly question and brainstorm in a non-judgmental framework. At the end of the day, though, show up and let yourself be seen. Admit mistakes and encourage others to do the same. All of this is big for accountability and being able to trust one another. Drop the armour that protects you from feeling vulnerable, and you will open yourself up to experiences that bring both respect and camaraderie.

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