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Mastering Collaboration: The Key to Building Effective Teams

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May 22, 2024

It’s not the digital collaboration tools but the development of strong collaboration skills that truly matters. 

84% of HR leaders emphasise that it’s the human element that unlocks the potential for effective collaboration.

For too long, the notion of mandatory in-office days has been seen as the cure-all for collaboration woes. The belief was that simply being physically together would naturally lead to better teamwork. 

However, our recent research suggests otherwise. It shows that employees and leaders often know what needs to be done; they just don’t know how to do it effectively without falling into the trap of endless meetings.

Why the shift in focus towards skill development? 

The answer lies in the hidden cracks beneath the surface of forced face-time. While being physically present can spark spontaneous interactions, it doesn’t address the root causes of poor collaboration, which include:

  1. Unclear Communication: Without clear and effective communication, misunderstandings and inefficiencies are inevitable.
  2. Lack of Trust: Trust is the foundation of any team. Without it, collaboration falters.
  3. Ineffective Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are natural, but the inability to resolve them constructively can lead to a toxic work environment.

These issues persist regardless of whether team members are sitting next to each other or working remotely. In fact, our study shows that nearly half of employees cite poor collaboration as a major reason for leaving or wanting to leave their jobs. This represents a significant threat to organisations: lost talent, decreased productivity, and a toxic work environment are consequences that no company can afford to ignore.

To build truly collaborative teams, organisations need to prioritise skill development over forced physical proximity. While tools can bridge the physical gap, it’s the human bridge of strong collaboration skills that truly fosters connection and empowers teams to achieve their full potential.

The Path to Effective Collaboration

Investing in the right tools is certainly helpful, but as HR leaders suggest, it’s only the first step. The real game-changer lies in fostering a culture of collaborative competency. Here’s how:

Training in Effective Communication

Equip employees with the skills to express themselves clearly, actively listen, and provide constructive feedback, both online and offline. This includes understanding different communication styles and adapting accordingly to ensure that messages are understood as intended.

Building Trust and Psychological Safety

Cultivate an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing ideas, taking risks, and disagreeing respectfully without fear of reprisal. Trust is built over time through consistent, positive interactions and the assurance that team members have each other’s backs.

Mastering Conflict Resolution

Provide tools and training to navigate disagreements constructively. This involves fostering empathy, understanding different perspectives, and finding win-win solutions. Effective conflict resolution skills can transform potential friction into opportunities for growth and innovation.

Embracing Asynchronous Collaboration

Recognise that not everyone thrives in real-time interactions. Leverage technology to enable effective teamwork across time zones and schedules. Asynchronous communication allows team members to contribute thoughtfully and on their own time, reducing the pressure of immediate responses and potentially leading to more considered and creative inputs.

By focusing on these areas, organisations can create a truly collaborative environment where teams are empowered to work together effectively, regardless of their physical location. The development of collaboration skills is not just a nice-to-have; it’s essential for the success and well-being of both employees and the organisation as a whole.

While digital tools are valuable, the real strength of a team lies in its ability to collaborate effectively. By investing in the development of collaboration skills, organisations can overcome the limitations of physical proximity and build resilient, high-performing teams.

Getting started

Dive into the full research report by downloading it for free now. 

In the report you’ll find:

  • Exclusive remote working stats
  • Direct quotes from participants
  • Solutions to remote work problems

Download the report for free.

The findings from this research have not only enriched our understanding but have directly influenced the evolution of our ‘Build EMPOWERING Leaders of Remote Teams‘ courses.

By aligning our courses with the real-world challenges identified through this research, we aim to equip leaders with the skills, strategies, and insights necessary to navigate and excel in the complex terrain of remote team leadership.

Take the first step towards creating a culture of transparency by investing in your leaders. With People Efficient’s new Building Empowering Leaders of Remote Teams courses your leaders will perfect their ability to manage and lead, so that you can help your organisation adapt to a remote working structure which takes into account both the uniqueness of each employee, and the health of the business.

We don’t open the doors often, as the courses are all sold out, but when we do, we only offer spaces to those on the waiting list (get on the waiting list here). 

To find out more, schedule a chat with our Agile HR expert, Kate Maddison-Greenwell here.