Small team collaboration 101: 6 tips toward better productivity

Small team collaboration 101: 6 tips toward better productivity
by: Custom Toll Free , August 29, 2017

Maybe you’ve been freelancing for the past several years. Maybe you’ve been a solopreneur. Or maybe you’ve held a corporate role that’s allowed you to work almost entirely on your own.

Now, circumstances have changed and you must work as part of a team. Your new role requires you to master the art of collaborating within a small group. Working closely with a wide variety of people and personalities can be a challenge for the uninitiated, but your willingness to adapt could be vital to the next stage of your career.

“Effective collaboration is crucial for small teams working against the constraints of time and money,” notes Matt Hunckler in Forbes. “When you don’t have a surplus of either resource, you could run out of one — or both — if your team isn’t running like a well-oiled machine.”

Fortunately, technology has stepped up with multiple collaboration tools that make group communications simpler, faster and more efficient. But how can you optimize team dynamics when it comes to face-to-face communication? Consider the following:

1. Understand the point. There’s a reason your team members are tasked with working together. Work to clarify the purpose of the collaboration, the role of each participant, the goal of each given project and its significance to the company.

2. Don’t be stingy about brainstorming. If you have good but not fully formed ideas, throw them out there early in the process. Teamwork is all about parsing the pros and cons of various concepts in a nonjudgmental process before deciding to invest more work into them as a group.

3. Brush up on tact. You may have to re-learn how to voice disagreement and give constructive criticism without putting others on the defensive. Know the offensive and inoffensive ways of saying “I don’t like your idea.” “Difficult conversations will be easier right from the start if everyone remembers to critique in love,” advises Hunckler. “Feedback should always be constructive and come from a place of respect and appreciation, and the person whose idea is being critiqued needs to know they aren’t being personally attacked.”

4. Aim to optimize strengths. The world would be a boring place if everyone thought alike, and people of different backgrounds and personalities (at least theoretically) should each bring something to the table. Work at matching their strengths with appropriate tasks and roles within the team.

5. Promptly address conflict. Some conflict is healthy, but left unresolved it can fester and cause resentment. “Pay attention to team dynamics, body language and dialogue between team members so you can push the conflict to the surface and diffuse it before it breaks down team productivity,” recommends business adviser Murray Newlands on

6. Get to know your teammates. In the interest of building trust, show interest in their lives and be transparent when asked about your own. “Suspicious and cynical employees are disinclined to collaborate,” observes author Carol Kinsey Goman on the Workfront site. “Sharing knowledge is still perceived as weakening a personal power base.”

Analysts say the ability to effectively collaborate will be an increasingly important skill as more Americans work remotely.

“The more the workplace becomes connected by open offices, distributed teams and remote technology to get things done, the more that effective collaboration becomes as critical a skill as organization or critical thinking,” observes Marcus Verner on the Workfront site. “Teams that excel at collaboration tend to innovate better and respond to market conditions faster. They tend to experience higher levels of morale and, as a result, productivity. Finally, better and more collaboration equals fewer mistakes and surprises.”

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