Here’s a simple way to see collaborative communication. It is when the tech team meets regularly with the marketing department to see how both groups can work towards the organization’s goals. It is when the classroom teacher works hand-in-hand with parents to help the students get better grades.
This article looks at how to facilitate team collaboration and some of the communication channels that can support it.
What is Collaborative Communication?
For many people, the term collaboration has the same meaning as coordination and cooperation, and they are often used interchangeably. But that is not necessarily correct.
Collaboration, as it concerns the workplace, involves removing the organizational separation that keeps people apart, allowing them to have a higher level of a joint working relationship. What binds people together in a collaborative effort is effective communication.
In very basic terms, collaborative communication is a system of communication that lets people come together to contribute their expertise toward a shared project or mission.
Why Collaborative Communication Matters
Roadblocks are normal when you are trying to accomplish a project, but you don’t give up just because you encounter hiccups. Seeking another perspective can help you unravel what once seemed impossible. Working in teams helps you see things from different perspectives that can lead to quick solutions to problems.
With collaborative communication, channels that would have remained closed will open up and bring with them new opportunities. Team members will also enjoy a boost in morale as their ideas and expertise is valued and accorded more respect in a collaborative endeavor.
The result of this is a higher retention rate because employees and teammates feel more connected and are more engaged in the workplace.
Collaborative Communication Skills
Team members must develop certain skills to support effective collaboration. Some of these skills include:
Getting along with people
No one ever gets things done successfully in a team if they can’t get along with others. Possessing the capacity to work with different people makes an individual a good communicator and will naturally bring the best out of others.
The ability to listen
The ability to respectfully and actively listen to others is particularly highly valuable in situations when there are differing opinions. It is important to try to see things from other people’s perspective since everyone on a team won’t share the same view. The best way to understand others is to develop the skill to listen actively to what they have to say.
Close-minded collaborators will have a difficult time fitting into a team. Open-mindedness is essential for developing new ideas and approaches, as well as adapting to change.
Valuing contributions from others
For a collaborative effort to have any semblance of success, everyone’s contribution must be seen as valuable, even though not all teammates will necessarily agree with the viewpoint. The point is to be respectful of every member’s experience, skills, and creativity.
Keeping their eyes on the big picture
Individual goals always take the backseat when it comes to achieving the team’s shared goals. The best collaborators keep their eyes on the bigger corporate picture and work toward it, letting personal goals assume a secondary role.
How to Support Collaborative Communication in the Workplace
With the increasing popularity of virtual businesses, it is not surprising to find employees, specialist contractors, and freelancers that work remotely. This growing trend is fast replacing hierarchical organizational structures, and flatter models that encourage more flexible communication lines are becoming commonplace.
While this is a good development, it also means that many teams are made up of people who have not worked physically together before nor have any personal connection. This can pose a problem because team members who don’t know each other are less effective at collaborating and communicating.
Thankfully, the same technology that makes virtual collaboration possible also has a solution to breaking the ice and making teammates get to know each other to promote better relationships. The following are some excellent digital communication channels that support effective collaboration.
High-Definition Conferencing Apps
Human communication goes beyond words to gestures, facial expressions, body language, and even intonation and voice pitch. These cannot be effectively communicated via email and might even be greatly misunderstood if there were to be communicated in writing.
Digital tools, such as Hangout and Meet, are high definition video conferencing platforms that allow teammates to meet “face-to-face” and share ideas. The outcomes from these meetings are usually more effective and productive than traditional back and forth emailing.
Some modern conferencing apps also come with instant messaging and group chatting apps that improve one-on-one relationships among team members.
The ability to quickly share digital files and documents is another essential tool in the effective collaboration toolbox. Several platforms and programs are available for this purpose. Some good examples include Dropbox, WeTransfer, OneDrive, and iCloud.
Seamless sharing of ideas is crucial to collaboration communication, and these platforms can help you achieve that.
Real-Time Editing and Collaboration
Cloud technology allows teams to not only share files but to also edit documents in real-time. This allows for streamlined work without the challenges of trying to keep track of changes. Google Docs is one of such real-time editing tools.
Microsoft Teams is another tool build specifically for collaboration. It is part of the Microsoft 365 cloud-based productivity suite packed full of digital collaborative tools.
Project Management Tools
Assigning tasks and responsibilities to different team members, monitoring deadlines and completing milestones, and other task-oriented functions are better handled by project management tools. With these tools, you will be able to stay on top of tasks and lead to effective collaboration.
The internet is rife with a plethora of project management tools that can leave anyone overwhelmed. If you don’t have any specific project management tool in mind, here’s a good recommendation.
You don’t need to worry too much if your organization or team isn’t quite up to par in terms of collaborative communication at this point in time. The good news is that you can work toward achieving that goal by following the suggestions in this article. Keep in mind that it will take deliberate efforts, patience, and some time to create a collaborative workforce. However, the payoff is more than worth it.