4 Principles to guide you on your journey to collaboration

Organizations are complex.

One of the most important functionalities — carried out minute-by-minute, day-in and day-out, by all organizations — is collaboration. 

When organizations collaborate better, we perform better. We often waste so much time spent on fixing problems related to the inability to collaborate effectively. You can help encourage better collaboration in your organization by focusing on four areas:

We have identified 4 guiding principles that are important to understand if you are trying to increase the collaboration capabilities of your organization or business ecosystem.

1) Collaboration doesn’t have to be “real time”

Expecting all collaboration to happen in real time is limiting. When you open the door to asynchronous collaboration, you’ll find that people work best in different ways at different times.

Although it may seem odd to collaborate together but not “together,” you’ll soon realize that projects are being completed sooner and at a higher quality, as well as with less tension between team members. 

There are many programs and platforms such as MURAL, Monday, Asana, even Google Drive that allow users the ability to work asynchronously. Sometimes this even grants the opportunity for more productivity, as people can contribute during the hours they are at peak focus time, instead of feeling the pressure to force out ideas during a conference call. 

This is especially beneficial for organizations who have team members living in multiple different time zones. Embracing asynchronous collaboration provides a more inclusive and equal working environment.

2) Meet your team where they are

If people are working remotely, rather than in-office, then it makes sense to use platforms that offer more than just video calling. For example, Microsoft Teams has features for storing and organizing shared files, creating separate teams for specific projects and even managing and assigning tasks between team members. 

Tools such as these make much more sense than a whiteboard in the office that not everyone has access to. 

That being said, there are likely still team members who do work in the office, and providing technology such as whiteboard cameras or video windows for hybrid meetings will be beneficial for everyone. 

3) Provide your team with tools to help them collaborate effectively

We’ve mentioned several technology tools and platforms throughout this post that are great for fostering teamwork and communication. However, this doesn’t mean that the same tools will work for every organization. 

Finding the right tools depends on the needs of your people, projects and overall day-to-day operations. The right tools will help you increase communication, decrease project timelines and foster better collaboration between team members. 

Sometimes this requires a little bit of trial and error, which is why user testing and really listening to the feedback from your team is important. Use this as an opportunity to collaborate on how you collaborate. 

Which leads us to our final principle:

4) Feedback matters

Check-in with different team members from different departments often, and ask them what tools are or aren’t working. Maybe some people need a little extra training on how to use some platforms, or you need to establish clearer guidelines around how, when and where to use them. 

If you tried something new and it truly isn’t going well, this doesn’t mean it’s the end. Ask for alternative suggestions and opinions from the actual users. Don’t leave major decisions like these up to just the executives or managers within your organization. 

The more your people feel included in these decisions, the more likely that they will adapt to new collaboration technologies quicker and with more enthusiasm.

Getting started

Whether you are searching for new tools to help your team collaborate, or are starting from scratch and need to develop new collaborative practices, ET Group is here to help.

From technology solutions, to workshops that will help your team develop new practices, we’ll co-create the collaborative environment you’ve been dreaming of, and then some.

Book a Discovery Call today!

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What is the difference between Communication and Communications?

Communication is a shared experience.

Communications is how that experience is shared.

It is not uncommon to see these two terms used interchangeably. Outside of the technology world, most wouldn’t even blink when they hear the term “communications” used in the wrong context. 

However, while in many contexts “communications” is assumed to be the plural of “communication,” in the business world it’s actually a term used to describe the network of technology tools an organization uses to communicate. When trying to map out how your business operates, this is an important distinction. 

Is your tongue all twisted up yet? 

Let’s really break it down. 

Different types of communication…

The first thing to keep in mind when it comes to communication is there are two different types: “real-time” communication and “iterative” communication. Also known as synchronous vs. asynchronous communication.

The easiest way to tell the difference is this: if you cut the connection and the collaboration session ends, it is real time (or synchronous), if it doesn’t end, it is iterative (or asynchronous).

When you are in a video meeting and you leave the session, then the conversation is over – this is real-time communication. If you want to continue the conversation verbally, you have to rejoin the meeting, or schedule another one.

If your coworker sends you an email at 7:00pm on Tuesday, but you don’t respond until 10:00am on Wednesday, this is an iterative communication. This is still a continuous conversation, but not all parties are required to be present at the same time to keep the information flowing.

…Require different communications tools

Communications tools that aid real-time communication can look very different depending on the type of work you do and where your employees are. In an increasingly hybrid world, many organizations are finding more and more of their team members working remotely. 

This means we not only need to be considering what tools and technologies are available in the office — such as ceiling microphones, life-like sized screens and high quality speakers — but also need to keep in mind what remote members have access to. 

This is why communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Webex are an important bridge. These platforms are extremely adaptable and accessible from anywhere on any device. Employees working remote and in- office can connect to the same environment and have a high quality experience without missing information or feeling disconnected.

Iterative communications tools can also range from instant messaging platforms, to digital whiteboarding apps, even websites for recording asynchronous video. 

The key to iterative communications is keeping things organized. Project management tools such as Trello and Asana are great for tracking progress, leaving update notes for your team and linking important documents.

Giving your people the power to work when they are most focused — without the pressure of trying to coordinate who is available and when — actually saves time and leads to higher quality work much faster.

Communication is the core of every interaction we have

The relative framing for different types of communication, enabled by different types of communications, gives us an insightful view into how we collaborate.

If we can help our organizations to be better at communicating, we unleash the abilities to prioritize our time better, perform better, and connect better. 

How can we be better at communicating? Here are two transformative things you can do:

Need help?

ET Group is here for you. Contact us to book a Discovery Call today, and find the communications tools you need to help your business thrive! 

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