Businesses are always looking for ways to improve efficiency, decrease the bottom line, and increase productivity. Collaboration can allow for successes in all these areas. However, it is important to bear in mind a few tricks to keep it from being counterproductive. Personality conflicts as well as overlong meetings and lack of connection to team members can all create issues. But these issues are easy to address.
Have a Clear Set of Standards in Place
Intuit states that one of the most essential components to increased productivity in collaboration is ensuring everyone is on the same page. If one member is trying to take the project in one direction and another is headed off on a tangent, progress will be limited. In fact, tempers are more likely to flare and positive relationships ruined. Make it clear what the project’s goals are and what the collaboration is intended to accomplish. If there are specific tasks to be split up, then make sure everyone knows who is to handle what and what is to be done if a task cannot be completed.
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The International Trade Administration recommends that before collaboration begins, you or a designated individual should develop a conflict resolution scheme. Even with realistic expectations, it is not uncommon for misunderstandings to develop. These will be best handled if the team members know what is expected and how to handle problems. It will also prevent your team from being sidetracked.
Use a Video Conferencing Platform
You can improve productivity with Blue Jeans or Skype or other video conferencing services to allow for better communication. Through video conferencing, members of the collaborative team can talk about the project and work on various details. Many video conferencing services allow additional tasks to be completed such as simultaneous document edits or screen sharing. Through this, you can make sure that everyone is on the same team.
One of the biggest ways that video conferencing will increase your team’s overall productivity is through cutting down on commute times and providing greater flexibility. You don’t have to worry about all the members being at the same meeting site. You can just find a time that will work for everyone and host the meeting through the Internet. With services like Blue Jeans, you don’t even have to install expensive devices and applications to get everyone on the same page. Basic video conferencing services that work through the cloud or similar technology can be installed on current devices including desktops, tablets, laptops, and smart phones.
Provide Regular Status Updates
The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services strongly recommends keeping all team members updated on collaborative work. One of the easiest ways to waste time and resources is if different people do the same task when it is unnecessary. You can use a live streaming service such as a shareable task list to check off completed items. You should also plan to provide updates on the project at each meeting.
As a general rule, any time someone finishes a full component, it is good to check in with the rest of the team. In cases involving research or marketing components, several team members will likely have to work on the same task. So if, for instance, you need your team members to come up with a comprehensive timeline of all soda usage in the US between 1970 and now, it would be best if whoever finishes lets the rest of the team know as soon as it is completed to avoid wasted time.
Keep Meeting Times Brief
Team leaders sometimes make the mistake of thinking that team meetings must last an hour or two to make them effective. That’s not the case. Most people despise meetings precisely because they feel they are wasting their time. Instead of trying to fill a time slot, just let the meeting go as long as it’s needed. Set a ballpark in advance, but if you finish early, summarize the conclusions, and then let everyone go.
Collaboration offers a host of benefits to businesses. Through them, you can get greater creativity as well as better productivity. But they can sometimes cause difficulties through personality conflicts and so on. However, you can counter these. One of the simplest ways to increase productivity is to ensure that there are clear standards for the collaboration. You should also set up a video conferencing platform to allow for greater communication between team members. Additionally, you will want to ensure that regular status updates are provided. This way you avoid unnecessary duplication. Regular team meetings are also essential, but make sure they go no longer than necessary. This way your team knows you are valuing their time, and you will further increase overall productivity.