Teams and organizations reach out to The People Piece because they want to do better together.
They want greater efficiency, less mistakes, and more fulfillment doing their work. We help them develop the mindsets, agreements and skillsets they need to communicate and collaborate more effectively.
Yet there is another essential piece to the team health puzzle, and that is Process. What - if any - collaboration tools, systems and procedures have teams adopted to ensure they work more effectively together? (Together, we call these 4 elements our MAPS approach to team health)
In our work with teams - and also internally - we’ve found the process piece can be challenging. What is the best collaboration tool to support highly collaborative and often distributed teams, and critically, what are the best methods for ensuring team members actually adopt these new systems rather than reverting back to email and Word docs at worst, or a subpar cloud-based tool at best?
Here is some wisdom from our friends at ClickUp, the cloud-based collaboration tool we use in-house at The People Piece (and recommend to our clients). We think you'll find it useful for getting all team members on board with new ways of doing things, even when it's hard.
Does it feel like technology and new software tools has made team communication even more difficult?
With email, online comments and quick messages, sometimes it’s even more difficult to understand what your team needs and understands. It can be harder to manage their expectations.
Layer on tool after tool and it can be confusing about what goes where, and what steps need to happen next.
How do you break that cycle of confusion?
In fact, there are tools that can improve this communication and make the process easier. It’s a matter of creating new habits around the new software and getting everyone on the same page. Easier said than done though, right?
How do you get well-intentioned software tools to work for you rather than against you?
Though many parts of effective team communication still need to happen in person, you can effectively utilize productivity tools and project management software to erase the friction of follow-ups and review. Yes, it is possible for these tools to make your teamwork easier rather than harder.
In this post, you’ll learn how to leverage software to help your team’s collaboration and workflows, rather than bring your organization to a complete standstill.
Let’s think about the best practices for improving your collaboration with software.
1. Use the Help Resources for the Software
Don’t expect all of your team members to be fully knowledgeable about the software and its features. You may have a few power users who will naturally gravitate to all of its amazing features and a few others who progress slowly. Those that aren’t as adept or comfortable with a new collaboration or communication style should be helped and encouraged, and not shamed. You can gently nudge them to try it out and then offer a point person for help or assistance along the way. This could be the customer success team for the software company, or an in-house champion who found and looked at best practices for using it. Visiting the software company’s help resources, such as docs and videos, could also provide answers.
However, your software choices should feel intuitive for a large number of your team members even if there is a learning curve. Be aware when new team members start, and document any best practices that your team has developed so they can get up to speed quickly.
2. Agree on how you’re going to work and then hold people accountable
Once you’ve been onboarded and trained, your team has to follow through on its new collaboration. You are trying to change your team’s habits. And this could be a ruthless process.
If your team drops reminders via sticky notes on top of a keyboard, then that has to change with the new software. If they are accustomed to company-wide broadcast emails sharing their latest musings, that’s gotta stop, too. When new tasks, ideas or thoughts come up, be sure they’re recorded in a way that’s consistent and accessible across the whole business unit or department.
3. Create a central place for information
Oftentimes, software tools can consolidate lots of the conversations that are being conducted over multiple channels. Email has its limitations because everyone organizes their inboxes differently; spreadsheets often don’t have the flexibility that teams need and your company message board or chat tool also has ideas in there, too. A project management software and/or a knowledge management repository will help you keep those tasks and documents straight and accessible.
4. Make Specific Tasks
Ever left a long meeting and didn’t know what to do next?
It’s lonely to feel left out and disengaged from the process. A good step in conducting better meetings is to not only have an agenda, but to also have actionable steps after the meeting. What’s helpful is to also record these in whatever software tool / method you’ve agreed to in point two. Creating action plans with specific tasks will help your team stay organized and collaborate more effectively. Checklists and templates can also help your team follow the same process each time.
5. Focus On What Makes A Difference
One downfall with collaboration in software is that there’s too much information sometimes. It’s easy to skip between tasks and projects, doing a little bit here and a little bit there. To combat that tendency to procrastinate, set priorities in your system to indicate what each team member should be focused on. Task priorities tell the team what’s important, keep them focused on achieving that goal, and streamline the workflow, saving your company money in the process.
Many teams say they want to be on the same page and work together, but often overlook the key tactical steps it takes to make that happen. And that can be exacerbated when introducing a new productivity platform or software tool. Setting expectations for how your team communicates can be helpfulful in establishing clear boundaries, and will also help your team collaborate and eliminate the constant search for a perfect collaboration solution.
The People Piece helps leaders, managers and teams develop the communication and collaboration skills they need to get more done together. Contact us to learn more about our customized coaching, training and comprehensive development solutions.