When you’re building a business, you want it to be successful as possible. And a huge part of that success comes from the team you assemble.
In order for your business to succeed, you need a team who can work together to get things done. Whether that’s developing an innovative marketing strategy, providing the highest level of service to your clients and customers, or launching a new product line.
But not all teams are created equal—and if you want to build the kind of high-functioning, collaborative team that can take your business to the next level, you need the right strategy.
So what, exactly, does that strategy look like? Here are some of the best tips for building a collaborative team (and building a successful business as a result):
Let your team walk in someone else’s shoes
In order for your employees to work collaboratively, they need to really understand where their other team members are coming from. So why not give them the opportunity to walk in their shoes?
Have your employees regularly shadow other team members, roles, and departments. By giving your employees the opportunity to get a greater understanding of the bigger picture of your business, they’ll get greater insight into how each team functions—and how they can work better with each of those teams.
So, for example, have your marketing team sit in on a presentation with your sales executives. This will give your marketing team a better understanding of how pitches play out in real-time—which will allow them to develop better, more targeted materials for your sales team to use to develop business. Or, another example, have your software engineers shadow your customer service team. Seeing the issues that your customer service reps deal with on a daily basis will help your engineers identify areas where customers are struggling, and make changes to your app or software that will make it easier for your reps to provide a high level of service.
The point is, having your employees work in and with other teams and departments will give them a more big-picture view of how your business functions—and will make it easier for every employee, team, and department to work together.
“Once a year, we ask team members to work in another department for a day. Salespeople work in the customer service team, customer service specialists work in the marketing team, our marketers work in sales etc. By doing this, employees understand what their colleagues are doing on a day to day basis. It's a great way to create a more collaborative team,” says Gregory Golinski, Head of Digital Marketing for YourParkingSpace.co.uk.
Not only does pairing different employees together help you build a more collaborative team, but it also helps your team build their resumes. Need a resume to showcase your unique set of skills? Get started with one of Canva’s resume templates, like the Neon Green Simple Resume or the Modern Floral Feminine Creative Resume.
Build the team culture as a team
In order to build a collaborative team, you need a collaborative corporate culture. So why not build that culture collaboratively?
Instead of giving a small group (like your executive team) the task of defining your corporate culture, make it a collaborative experience and involve your entire team. Ask them what kind of culture they’d like to build. By involving your team in the process, you’re establishing a culture of collaboration from day one—and that culture will enable all of your teams to work more collaboratively.
“If you don't actively decide on and set a culture it will be set for you and that can destroy collaboration,” says Dr. Vince Repaci, Senior Coach at LOVR Atlantic. “We bring all members of the team to the table and get them to discuss and decide together what team culture will be and how they will treat each other. And then we get the team to write and sign it so it can go in the office. By empowering to design and commit to their own standards you increase engagement.”
Once your team has brainstormed ideas about the culture they want to build, you’re going to want to finalize the details and get everything out on paper. Transform your corporate culture into a visual presentation with one of Canva’s presentation templates, like the Pink and Red Fashion Portfolio Professional Presentation or the Blue Central Project Architecture Presentation.
Get everyone on the same page with your vision and values
If you notice your team is struggling to collaborate, it could be because they’re just not on the same page.
According to Dr. Paul G. Schempp, Director of the Sport Instruction Research Lab at the University of Georgia, there are two core elements to building a collaborative team. And the first? Shared vision. “Everyone has to agree on what the ultimate purpose of the team is to be,” he says. “Another way to think of it [is] ‘In 10 years, when we look back on what we have achieved together, what do we want to see?’ If a team doesn't have that, you don't have anything because everyone going in different directions gets a team nowhere.”
The second is shared values. “Once you know where you are going, what are the guiding principles that will get you there. What will everyone willingly live by? What will define you as a team?,” says Shempp.
If people on your team aren’t aligned under the same vision and set of values, it’s going to make it harder for them to work together—so, as a business, it’s important to define those values and vision and get everyone on the same page.
- Where is your business headed?
- What are you working towards?
- What’s your purpose?
- What do you value as a company?
Taking the time to answer these big questions—and making sure everyone is on board with those answers—will go a long way in building a high-functioning, collaborative team.
You definitely want to share your mission and values with your team—but why not share them with your customers, too? Spread the word across your social platforms with one of Canva’s social graphic templates, like the Coral Brushstroke Quote Instagram Post or the Blue Simple Winter Quote Instagram Post.
Use technology to bring your team together
If your team is remote, collaboration can be challenging. Challenging—but not impossible!
In today’s tech-savvy culture, there are plenty of tools out there that make it easier to foster collaboration between remote teams. Some technologies that you’ll definitely want to check out include:
When teams work together in the same location, conversations can happen organically. People can stop and chat while they grab coffee, walk over to someone’s desk to say hello, or have a quick chat in the hallway on their way to a meeting.
With remote teams, you have to create those opportunities for conversation, and that’s where Slack comes in.
Slack fosters real-time communication, conversation, and collaboration within your team. You can create channels for different teams and topics (like a channel for your marketing team or a channel to share exciting company and team-related news), making it easier to create that sense of camaraderie and collaboration that happens organically when teams work in the same location.
Slack also makes it easy to share documents and workflow, set meetings—it’s like everything you need to build a collaborative remote team, all in one, easy-to-use app.
“Communicating via video is extremely effective for keeping everyone engaged and collaborative,” says sales and marketing strategist Amber Vilhauer, who works with a remote team. “I like to record a quick Loom video…”when reaching out in order to set them up for success. It's a much more personal way to connect with everyone because we're far apart and it keeps everyone better engaged.”
There are a variety of ways you can use video conferencing software (like Zoom or Google Hangouts) to foster collaboration in your remote team. As Vilhauer mentioned, send video messages instead of emails. Host video meetings where your team can brainstorm face-to-face. Put regular “virtual happy hours” on the calendar so your team can relax and form deeper connections outside of work-related projects. Use video software to build a stronger sense of connection with your team—and watch your team become more collaborative as a result.
If you want to build a collaborative team, your team needs to be able to collaborate on projects in real time.
Enter Google Drive.
Google Drive allows everyone on your team to access and work on files in real time—making it easier for your team to collaborate on projects, no matter where they are.
For example, let’s say your team is putting together a press release to announce a new product. With Google docs, you can have your PR rep in Australia and your Marketing Manager in the US working on the document together in real-time to make sure both teams are getting their points across in the release.
Google Drive will give your team across the globe the ability to work together on projects in real-time—and if that’s not building a collaborative team, we don’t know what is.
Build the kind of collaborative team that will take your business to the next level
High-functioning, collaborative teams are a must if you want to take your business to the next level. And now that you know how to build a collaborative team, all that’s left to do? Get out there and get building!