5 Jul

How to Foster Better Collaboration as a Team Leader

Ben Renner | | Leadership Development

leadershipA team leader in any organization must not only get the message of management across to all team members, he or she has to foster better employee engagement, communication, and collaboration. In complex working environments with remote workers and cross-functional team members, team leaders can get better results from employee collaboration by following these basic principles.

When a new team leader takes over a work group of any kind: Information Technology, app and website development, creative, sales, etc., that leader usually starts by trying to get to know everyone individually. That’s because the team leader has to learn how the team fits each individual together as a whole. It’s up to these leaders to foster productive employee communication, employee collaboration, and, in the end, productivity.

Productive collaboration is based on strong communication and a sense of common destiny for a team as a unit. If everyone in the team buys into the notion that the team ‘wins’ and ‘loses’ as a single entity, the team will have more success. This is why collaboration is a such an important factor in overall employee engagement and the success of organizations in many different industries.

Because team collaboration is so important, team managers and team leaders have to prepare themselves to develop the habits that lead to better communication and collaboration to strengthen the team when stress is high and deadlines loom. Here’s how a successful team manager does it:

Enumerate the Team’s Goals

better collaborationA good team manager delegates and puts all team members in a position to succeed in their individual goals, tasks, and work. But when team members go off to work on their individual projects, they also must keep their eyes on the common, team goal. Team members work more effectively and take more ownership of their work if they know where it all is going and to what purpose it all leads. Team members will start going above and beyond their myopic, individual goals to help the team’s overall goals when they know what those collective goals are.

Set and Forget Expectations

Expectations for quality of work, individual conduct, communication strategies and style, and more should be set by the team leader and then immediately acted upon as if they were law. This is about walking the talk, as they say. If the team manager makes expectations clear to all members at the beginning of a project then exemplifies them, most individual members will follow along and live up to those expectations. Of course, there will be mistakes and the inevitable team member or two who don’t live up to those expectations, and those situations can be dealt with delicately and privately. Part of laying out expectations is then assuming the team will adhere to them. If the expectations are reasonable and conducive to team success, a professional team won’t have to be asked or arm-twisted to live up to and exceed them.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Using the right tools and applications for better employee communication and engagement is more than simply researching the hottest new apps and making the team download them. Many times, technology can get in the way of true communication between team members and management. Instead, adapt to new tools and applications that will actually help the team instead of making things more complicated. The fewer times a team leader has to switch between favored communication and employee collaboration programs, the better the team will do.

Consistency Rules

All of these leadership techniques to foster better employee collaboration have to do with consistency. A team leader has to be consistent in message, expectations, and in the end-goals of the team as a single unit. When everyone knows what the team is working towards and how each member fits in with that goal, the team works as one individual with the power of several.