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Team collaboration: why it’s important and how to foster it

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Team collaboration is when members of a team work together to achieve mutual business goals. 

Read on to find out the following:

  • How team collaboration differs from teamwork,
  • Why team collaboration is important, 
  • What are the three types of collaboration skills, and 
  • How to build team collaboration.  

What is the difference between team collaboration and teamwork?

Although they sound the same, team collaboration and teamwork aren’t the same things. 

Team collaboration gathers a group of colleagues who join their forces to solve a problem or complete a task together. With collaborative teams, there are no leaders.

Here’s an example of team collaboration. 

During brainstorming sessions, team members get together in the same room or join the same call. They try to discuss an issue by allowing everyone to have a say, express their opinion, and give their contribution to the problem at hand. 

This way, the entire team can come up with a mutually agreeable solution. 

In contrast, teamwork refers to a group of individuals with unique responsibilities who put in their individual efforts and reach a common goal. Teamwork requires someone to coordinate the individuals. 

Here’s an example of teamwork.

When a basketball team wins a game, it’s because everyone on the team played well. Each basketball team has several roles:

  • Point guard (PG), 
  • Shooting guard (SG), 
  • Small forward (SF), 
  • Power forward (PF), and 
  • Center (C).

So, if every basketball player did their part well, the results are positive.

Why is team collaboration important?

Team collaboration comes with many benefits, not only for teams but for individual team members, too. 

Good team collaboration can: 

  • Encourage better problem-solving: Experts from various fields work together to solve a problem, bring unique perspectives to the table, and reach one mutual decision. 
  • Give a broader perspective: Team members of diverse backgrounds usually approach problems from different angles and see the bigger picture.
  • Support knowledge sharing: Employees working together share ideas, viewpoints, and experiences, opening a new world of knowledge for everyone. 
  • Promote healthy company culture: Team collaboration breaks hierarchical barriers and speeds up your team’s progress. 
  • Improve employee engagement and happiness: When team members feel free to express themselves in a team, they are happier in the workplace and more likely to stay with the company longer.

What are the three types of collaboration skills?

For teams to work effectively and successfully, each team member has to possess certain skills. 

These skills include:

  • Communication skills,
  • Emotional intelligence, and
  • Respect for diversity.

If every team member nurtures these three types of skills, they can feel more comfortable working with each other. 

Tips for building team collaboration

Building team collaboration is a joint effort. 

Here are some tips that can help teams collaborate better.

Tip #1: Establish common objectives

People working in the same team have to be on the same page when it comes to goals they want to achieve. 

How can they do that? They should: 

  • Know what their goals are. 
  • Communicate transparently and often. 
  • Share ideas, experiences, and views whenever possible. 
  • Use team meetings to reevaluate and review their common objectives.
  • Tone down all the biases.

Tip #2: Set expectations

Team members have to set expectations and know their obligations so that they can focus on accomplishing their tasks the best they can.

A few steps to consider: 

  • Assign roles early on. 
  • Highlight common goals and objectives. 
  • Foster individual accountability.
  • Motivate and inspire. 
  • Provide regular performance reviews

Tip #3: Set standards

Setting standards early on will help each team member know what they’re expected to do and take on responsibility for completing their assignments. 

You should: 

  • Choose the right collaboration tools.  
  • Delegate workload equally and fairly. 
  • Promote mutual respect and understanding. 
  • Set reasonable deadlines.
  • Showcase flexibility and empathy.
  • Practice emotional intelligence to tackle burnout in the workplace. 

Tip #4: Focus on individual strengths

Getting to know your teammates is beneficial because it will help you discover the individual strengths of each team member. 

By knowing what each team member’s forte is, you can easily capitalize on them and make remarkable progress as a team.

For example, the next time you need someone who’s great at handling initial calls with new clients, turn to a team member of your sales team who’s great at establishing effective third-party communication.

Tip #5: Foster fresh ideas

Team collaboration should ensure a free exchange of ideas. 

Creating a supportive and judgment-free environment for sharing new ideas will show your team that everyone can contribute to the team’s progress. 

What’s important, though, is to support creative conflict among team members, especially in situations that spark disagreements. This way, your team will be more likely to come up with better solutions during the debate.


Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Clockify blog.
To learn more about team collaboration, we recommend reading the full article: