Creative teams thrive on collaboration. To work together effectively, members need to be able to communicate seamlessly throughout the entirety of a project lifecycle. When done right, collaboration allows agencies to flourish. When teams are distributed, whether due to remote working conditions or because of internal divisions, it can be especially difficult to maintain the high standard of collaboration which drives success and growth.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of tools and strategies that can help teams overcome inhibitors to communication and strengthen their collaborative skills. By taking a closer look at internal practices and technologies, teams can work to improve collaboration, leading to more successful business outcomes.
Before addressing the specific tools and strategies available to support collaboration efforts, it is critical for agencies to understand its obstacles.
Communication is the key to collaboration. Teams must be able to communicate effectively with all participants, or their work will inevitably suffer. Often, poor communication practices and dated technologies are at the root of collaboration challenges. When teams are widely dispersed, seamless communication can be even more challenging.
Successful collaboration depends on a free flow of information across all teams and departments. In order to maintain cohesive collaboration, all team members should feel comfortable and confident approaching any member of their team for help, regardless of their experience level or ranking. However when an agency has a strict hierarchical structure that discourages this type of open dialogue, collaboration efforts deteriorate.
As previously stated, communication sits at the core of collaboration. But often, and particularly when agencies are scattered, some team members are either left out of the loop or lack participation.
To ensure the whole team is on the same page, it is incredibly important to actively involve all team members in every communication. Updating to more modern, low-friction communication channels can help keep team members informed and allow them to contribute to discussions in a more casual way. If certain team members tend to be reluctant to participate in communications, a team lead should make a conscious effort to get them involved and request their input.
Another way to facilitate effective communication within teams is by establishing clear “rules of conduct.” The fact is that many people have different work ethics and ideas on how they should work. Setting these rules of conduct can help clarify the agency’s processes and expectations and hold each team member accountable.
Organizing regular check-ins with the whole team can also be a great way to keep everyone connected. If the team is dispersed, a quick daily check-in may be beneficial to give members the opportunity to discuss stuck-points or ask questions.
Agencies are driven by innovative thinking. In order to inspire the creativity that sparks innovation, its culture needs to encourage new ideas. For this, cohesive collaboration is vital.
While there are some benefits to the typical hierarchical structure within companies, it can actually impede collaboration. If members of a creative team feel stuck in a formal role, they may be hesitant to share their ideas. Shifting to a flatter organizational structure can help boost confidence and allow participants to feel they are on a level playing field.
An agency with a culture of innovation encourages the free flow of ideas across all team members and departments. Organizing brainstorming sessions can help put teams in the right mindset to think creatively and share unique ideas.
Additionally, the agency culture can cultivate collaboration by recognizing the team’s accomplishments. By focusing on achievements, teams can the build confidence that motivates them to keep moving forward.
Cohesive collaboration allows agencies to thrive. Every team faces its own challenges, whether or not they are physically disconnected. However, teams can leverage these creative solutions to strengthen the bond between their members and encourage collaboration.