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By: Lizzie Brown|March 31, 2017

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For an organization to run smoothly and meet its goals, it is important to foster a work environment that supports collaboration amongst colleagues. Unfortunately for most organizations, this does not occur naturally, and thus you must make an effort and take steps to help build and sustain a cooperative work environment.

There are many activities and steps that the leadership along with the employees can take to help improve collaborative relationships.

Teamwork must become part of your culture.

successful team cooperationFor co-workers to successfully collaborate, the leadership within the firm must work to make collaboration one of the key values of the enterprise. Employees must see that the leadership within the firm works together as a team to accomplish goals. Also, the company’s leadership must award teams publicly when they are successful at working together to achieve their objectives.

To truly improve collaboration, leaders must provide an environment where employees are not afraid to share their ideas. Leaders must create a culture where the exchange of ideas is encouraged and rewarded. Teamwork and collaboration must be a central theme of the mission statement to improve collaboration.

Provide teams with the resources they need to work together.

To make improvements with communication, the organization must provide the necessary resources to the teams. This includes comfortable work spaces where the teams can work together. If the teams are spread out amongst different locations, then the organization must provide the resources that allow the teams to work together remotely such as video conferencing.

Finally, the organization should be providing an online collaboration portal for its employees, to use for communication. There are many online tools, such as Slack, that allow employees to communicate easily across different departments. Having the tools to communicate across departments easily is an essential instrument needed to improve collaboration.

Train employees and encourage ongoing learning.

Working as a collaborative team member is not a skill that everyone is born with; however, it is a skill that can be learned, which is why it is imperative the organization spend the money investing in the employee’s teamwork skills. There are fantastic team building courses out there for your employees to attend. Also, there are specific skills employees need to learn to be effective collaborators.

One of these skills is the ability to communicate with co-workers effectively. There are practical workshops employees can take to learn how to better communicate through public speaking. Learning public speaking skills will increase their confidence and ability to articulate points, as well as bring them closer together if the course is completed as a group.

Encourage people to socialize outside of work.

When employees are in the office, they are focused on the tasks at hand, which means there is little time for co-workers to bond on a personal level. It is vital to team collaboration for people to get to know each other outside the office. The event does not have to be a significant expense; it could be going to the movies, having a casual lunch or going for a drink after work. Participating in a social event will help break down barriers in the office and will help improve collaboration, as co-workers will have built trust and feel more comfortable collaborating together.

Clarifying roles and setting expectations.

Organizations will find when all employees are on the same page, working collaboratively will quickly become a seamless and natural process. Making sure each employee understands, not only his or her role, but the roles of the people around them will help everyone understand the big picture and how they fit into the larger puzzle.

It is also imperative that the leadership set clear expectations for the teams so that as employees work together, everyone is clear on which goal or objective needs to be reached.

Review individual’s talents.

An organization must look at every single employee’s skills and place them in a setting where they can add the most value. When forming teams, for them to effectively collaborate, one must identify each individual’s strengths and place them with co-workers who will complement those strengths. When each team member is the best at what their role is within the team, you will see them producing results above your expectations.

Resolve team conflict quickly.

No team will ever be perfect, and it is crucial for organizations to recognize this and have a system in place to handle any conflicts that arise. The system should allow any employee to share their concerns without repercussions. Also, employees should be allowed to have input on any solution to the conflict made by the organization. Employees who know there is a system in place and are comfortable knowing the dispute will be handled fairly will be able to return to the team in a healthy and collaborative manner.

Don’t let poor communication take over the workplace, and implement the above tips to ensure cooperation is the new norm.

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