In a Stanford University study published a few years back, researchers found that collaboration fosters motivation and transforms “work into play”. In other words, collaboration has the ability to create a dynamic environment where people can cross-pollenate and create, a space known to inspire great ideas and work. Still, many teams collaborating on creative projects are caught up in a groundhog day of outdated attitudes, approval workflow processes and tools.
So how do you inspire your team to collaborate in way that is both gratifying for them and productive for your projects?
Foster an environment of trust and gratitude
A research report by Reina, Center for Creative Leadership: “When trust is present, people step forward and do their best work, together, efficiently. They align around a common purpose, take risks, think out of the box, have each other’s backs, and communicate openly and honestly.”
Trust is the foundation of effective team collaboration, both at a leadership level and within the team itself. Without trust, teams can grow irritable and inflexible. Foremost, leaders and managers need to lead by example. Listen, negotiate, support and respect, which equates to providing a safe space for your team to voice their opinions and concerns. In supportive environments, teams are much more likely to demonstrate motivation and flexibility. Teams also do better when they feel appreciated.
According to Dr Lea Waters in Agile Today : “We assume that our team knows how much we value them and we underrate the powerful effect that saying thank you can have … The evidence is clear that gratitude plays a big role in employee happiness and relationships.”
Don’t leave your team guessing about project objectives and roles
Team collaboration is all about working towards the same project goals and milestones, which should be clearly defined in the brief prior to any work commencing. Make sure that your brief document captures all of the essential information your creative team requires to avoid assumptions (and mistakes) being made. Likewise, each team member needs to be clear about their role in every project.
According to the Harvard Business Review : “Collaboration improves when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined and well understood.”
Consider implementing approval workflow software to enhance collaboration
Typically, creative teams are working on a range of campaigns at any one time with a lack of transparency over how tasks and projects are tracking. Approval workflow software, on the other hand, enables teams to view a summary of work in progress so that everyone is on the same page. Remote access also means that team members working offsite can stay in the loop and actively collaborate. The system’s robust feedback system also means that teams can dispense with email approvals and rely on a faster, more collaborative way of managing approvals. Alert reminders also keep team members on track with deadlines, and an automatic audit trail ensures that everyone is accountable for their work.
Be sure to read: Signs your marketing team is ready for approval workflow software
Make sure your team has agility at its core
If your team is working in perpetual chaos, it’s going to be difficult for them to respond effectively to urgent jobs or when things don’t go to plan. For teams to be flexible and proactive, they also have to be highly organised. Implementing a tool, as mentioned previously, will go a long way in providing a transparent, organised platform from which to better manage projects. Still a tool won’t fix your approval workflow process if it’s not in good shape. It might well be time for a review of your process to ensure it is not hindering team collaboration.
Be sure to read: Refining your marketing approval workflow
While meetings can be a great place for collaboration, it’s important that you don’t bog your team down in unnecessary meetings. You can’t be agile when you’re forever in meetings. Remember, only ever schedule meetings that are essential to your creative projects and follow a clear agenda to keep things on track with an actionable plan.