Successful relationships are built on shared understanding. It often demands some give-and-take and solid leadership. Today’s business is operating in very uncertain times and often needs to do more with less. One way they’ve been able to get through this period is by setting aside antiquated communication procedures and using technology to make up any deficits they may have to overcome. This month, we wanted to take a look at how businesses are utilizing technology to accomplish this.
One major part of successful teamwork is communication. Teams need to be able to send and receive messages freely. In the workplace, communication is simpler; you can just walk up to someone and talk to them or have in-person meetings where people can not only pick up information but can also pick up more information through non-verbal cues. With so many companies employing remote workers today, it becomes a little more difficult to get all the information you may need. Fortunately, there are several communications options that make this simpler. They include:
- Email - The tried and true king of business communications, email is still an essential tool for people in and out of the workplace. Today’s email is typically accessible from anywhere and has dozens of tools and features that can help your team communicate and stay organized.
- Phone - The telephone may not be the most technologically advanced option here, but it still can be the most effective form of communication on a one-to-one basis. Today, there are Internet-based telephone systems called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) that integrate some of the tools listed below into one cloud-hosted platform. Then, of course, you have to consider that today’s smartphones are more powerful than many people’s workstations, providing access to all types of benefits for business communications.
- Instant messaging - Instant messaging is by far the most popular form of communication going. In fact, they’re used so much that text messaging (through SMS) is actually on the decline even as more people message more often than ever before. For business, you often see companies try to use one standard application so that people can stay organized and the company can easily monitor the platform, but most individuals have at least two instant messaging programs on their mobile device, and that’s not counting the numerous applications that feature a secondary instant messaging (or chat) option.
- Video conferencing - Video conferencing was gaining traction leading up to the pandemic, but with people removing themselves from public places as much as possible, the video conference has been one of the most useful pieces of technology during the pandemic; and, figures to be going forward. Using a camera and a microphone, numerous apps have been developed that allow people to video chat. Some companies are now using these tools exclusively for their internal meetings; and many are using them for their customer meetings as well.
- Collaboration apps - We’ll talk a little more about this below, but the collaboration app is basically a communication application combined with project management software with the ability to integrate more third-party applications with it. To that end, these applications give businesses the best of both worlds: real-time communication and the ability to collaborate using integrations.
These are the tools that the modern business has to consider today. Depending on what your business does, you can make a communications strategy that fits with your business. We mention these methods of communication because collaboration demands communication. That’s not all it requires, however.
How to Improve Your Team’s Collaboration Skills
Collaboration isn’t just the act of finding people with a certain expertise and sticking them on a project together. Sure, you could try that, and sure, it may work, but it’s definitely true that some people are better at working as a part of a team than others. To that end, a lot of successful collaboration is adjusting to other people’s communication styles and bringing something to the group that is lacking. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of any team-based project:
- Avoid hierarchy - If you truly want to build a team, you need to trust people to do the job they are assigned. In order to keep the egos of people on the team in check, you will want to keep your team operating evenly. The people that need to step up at any certain time typically do.
- Educate - Once you’ve chosen a team of people to collaborate on a project, and they prove they are up to the task at hand, your only other job is to make certain they understand all the pieces of the project. That includes deadlines, expectations, and processes.
- Invite suggestion - The project manager may be running the project, but the team that has been assembled does the work. Therefore, they will know better than project managers or business owners. That’s why they should be allowed feedback and input on how they complete their portion of a collaborative project.
- Encourage team problem solving - There will be bumps in every road, and in business, there can be some craters. If your team is expected to work both with others and independently to produce, they should need to get through the tough parts together. You’ll want to ensure avenues of dialogue are open and stay open.
Fruitful collaboration comes down to making sure that every member of the team feels valued enough to want to make the other members of the team proud to work with them. That, and having the right technology. If you would like to talk to our team of IT professionals about getting the technology your business needs to promote strong collaboration, give us a call today at (703) 821-8200.