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How to collaborate better

How to collaborate better

Posted 12th December, 2022 by Sarah

Michael Jordan once said that talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships. The same is true in business.

Yet collaboration isn’t always easy.

Everything from internal competitiveness to miscommunication can impede good teamwork.

With this in mind, we look at a few tips, founded in psychology, for collaborating better…

1) Make time for collaboration

A lack of time is often listed as one of the top causes of poor collaboration.

Media company Thomson Reuters says ‘Even though effective collaboration often saves time, a lack of time is often a key reason why collaboration does not occur.

‘Even if there is an easy route to collaborate, the daily rush of operational matters can still stymie collaborative effort.’

There are a few ways companies can address this.

The first is to ‘free up time’. This essentially involves giving team members a ‘pass out’ of a regular meeting or other routine duties so they can collaborate.

The second is to ‘purchase time’. Are your team members doing any jobs that could temporarily be covered by a temp or a contractor, for example?

Finally, you could try ‘restructuring time’. What would happen in you change the hours of a working day or two to include a later start and later finish, so team members can collaborate when other colleagues have left their posts for the day, to reduce distractions?

2) Eliminate biases

According to psychologists, psychological biases can hugely impact the success of teamwork.

“We’re wired to hear what we want to hear. We’re also wired to hear one another in biased ways, and we often fail to appreciate the merits in an unfamiliar or threatening idea,” psychologist Jeffrey Davis says. “These nearly unconscious biases can keep you from recognizing the potential value in someone else’s idea.”

There are a few ways you can attempt to eliminate biases in teamwork.

Davis suggests that team members can learn to ‘temporarily dissolve biases’.

He said: ‘Obviously dissolving biases temporarily requires extensive initial effort followed by training, practice, and patience.

‘In my work with groups and teams, I have found a simple way to heighten collaborators’ awareness of their biases toward one another and toward new ideas. I ask them to practice internally repeating, “Open Up. Don’t Size Up”

‘It turns out that this mindset shift is especially powerful for introverted employees and collaborators who often feel reticent and guarded in open collaboration.’

You might also want to play around with delivering ideas anonymously at certain parts of the teamwork process.

3. Communicate verbally as much as possible

According to reports, the tone of as much as 50 per cent of emails and instant messages is misunderstood.

Nick Morgan, author of ‘Can You Hear Me? How to Connect with People in a Virtual World’ told entrepreneur magazine: ‘People think others understand their messages 90 percent of the time, but the actual statistic is only 50 percent.

‘Recipients of a two-word email or text such as "nice job" or "great work" interpret the message as sarcastic 60 percent of the time.’

So, it’s important to communicate verbally and face-to-face as often as possible when collaborating as a team.

4. Eliminate egos

The old saying goes that there’s no ‘I’ in team but it’s easy to forget this in practice.

Psychologist Jeffrey Davis says: ‘Nothing shuts down a good flow conversation that could lead to great ideas better than bragging, self-analyzing, or otherwise redirecting the topic back to yourself’.

According to Ryan Holiday, author of Ego is the Enemy, there are as many as 25 different tactics for eliminating ego at work.

These include:

Adopting a beginners mindset – Holiday says ‘Pick up a book on a subject you know next to nothing about. Walk through a library or a bookstore — remind yourself how much you don’t know’.

Connecting with nature – Holiday says ‘Go out there and reconnect with the world. Realize how small you are in relation to everything else.’

Focusing on effort not results – Holiday says ‘If you can accept that you control only the effort that goes in and not the results which come out, you will be mastering your ego’.

5. Invest in the right tools

You don’t need to spend a fortune on elaborate team working technology to achieve the best as a team.

However, a little savvy investment in a few free or affordable tools can certainly help you on your way to better collaboration.

This is especially true if you work remotely a lot of the time.

In the brainstorming stages of a project, a tool like Miro can come in handy. This software lets team members interact with a virtual whiteboard, adding sticky notes, voting on which sticky notes they like the best, and manipulating sticky notes in real-time.

For everyday communication, meanwhile, it’s beneficial to have a team email solution that allows you to share calendars, contacts, files and tasks. At tsoHost, our team email solutions start at just £1.49 a month.

Categories: Small Businesses, Email

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