Team Collaboration: Beyond Technology

Effective collaboration is important on many levels. It advances the mission of your team or brand, and it encourages ideas and innovation. But with today’s massive proliferation of communication apps and social platforms, sometimes the human element gets lost in the process.

Sure, if you’re working with a remote team this might be easier said than done. But what it really boils down to is teamwork, and sometimes the best way to support a team environment is to put people in a room and encourage the free exchange of ideas.

The buy-in

Whether it’s in the real or the virtual world, every team member has to buy in. Once the connections are established, then you can add technology tools into the mix to enhance and complement what’s already there.

Where some leaders tend to fall short in this area is that they rely too much on technology. This sometimes removes the impetus to share the ideas and knowledge that drives business outcomes, encourages collaboration, and fuels productivity. If we were to illustrate the equation that points us to a successful collaboration, it would be the effectiveness of the company culture plus the technologies that support them.

Every culture has several subcultures

While your company culture may be one thing in the greater sense, there are often several micro-cultures within the greater population that make up the whole. For instance, the finance department will likely have a completely different culture than marketing. By identifying the ideals that guide each group in their processes, we can better understand where these divisions lie. Then, we can move on to identifying strategies for getting these two very different cultures to collaborate effectively.

For example, one team may prefer to engage in conflict behind closed doors, while others might prefer an open forum. Acknowledging these differences can help develop a greater understanding of each team’s culture as it pertains to the greater group.

In many cases, simply understanding these differences can make all the difference: using the same example, if the more outspoken group makes a compelling case for discussing issues openly, it may provide an avenue to change the other teams’ attitude around the task.

Ultimately, and despite the micro-cultures that can and do exist, you all have the same challenges (at least in the larger sense) and are all working towards the same goal.

As a leader, however, it is important to recognize when one culture is dominating another, and know when to intervene. Sometimes, ironing out differences is as easy as assimilating these micro-cultures into the larger group and thus taking the edges off what might be a disruptive pairing.

Technology: the good, the bad and the obscure

All things considered, it’s easy to understand how the case for technology can become muddied. If communication is not already interconnected between micro-cultures, there is little chance that any change will be affected simply by introducing an app.

For technology to work, it has to be widely accepted and adopted by everybody on the team, otherwise, it will not become a natural part of daily work processes. Many enterprise platforms work like Facebook in that they are “always on”. This creates a layer of noise that many choose to tune out in favor of more valuable activities. This aversion can create uncertainty that may result in delayed business decisions and stalled projects.

A simpler solution is to adopt a workflow that supports file sharing and collaboration and integrates a communication element such as Skype, Slack, or WeChat.

Microsoft Office 365 for business, for instance, enables unified communications and provides integrated access to Skype for Business (S4B) as well as OneDrive and OneNote to enable document collaboration and versioning. If a platform such as this is integrated into the workflow from day one, it will stand a better chance of enabling a collaborative workforce and eliminating communication silos within your company culture – which is still the ultimate goal.

City Central is proud to serve as the premiere executive suite and coworking space provider in Plano and Dallas, TX. Whether you are a start-up, entrepreneur, or a large company needing flexible workspace or meeting rooms in Plano or Dallas, we can help your business reach its full potential.