Dream teams can be found in all sizes and all kinds of places – the eleven guys in a huddle on the football field, the ensemble cast in the green room before show night, the two friends with a startup in their parents’ garage (you know who we’re talking about), or the five experts vetting ideas over Skype. But the one thing that stays the same is the level of collaboration they bring to the table. Getting things done better and faster is no easy task. That’s why all collaborative teams establish some ground rules to make any team effort worthwhile.
Here’s the first rule of any collaborative team – get everyone on the same page. Set up meetings to aggregate available information, align goals, set expectations, and establish roles and communication protocols. All this takes insane levels of over-communication. But the extra time and effort that’s taken to sync up eventually pays off. The end result is a focused team that knows where it’s headed. And of course, a team that remains a community no matter where there are.
Regpack CEO Asaf Darash has a remote team working out of Oakland, California, and Israel. He’s had an easy experience managing remote teams thanks to technology tools like Asana. “Asana lets us add subtasks to every task and assign each subtask to another person, sends comments on the task to everyone following and allows us to easily communicate in an organized way on every aspect of our business. Though I work mainly out of our office in Jerusalem while my sales and ops team is in Oakland, we are just as productive whether I’m in California or Israel.”
Ah yes, trust. Nothing happens without an atmosphere of trust, not even honest feedback. Build trust by valuing honesty and open communication. Discuss issues the minute they come up and put a formalized feedback process in place to take the rancor out of a suggestion or an opinion. On the opposite end of the spectrum, be careful using roundabout or overly flattering talk – it might sound downright dishonest. We liked how sports technology firm Hudl adopted #RealTalk to emphasize the value of being respectfully blunt.
As surprising as this might sound, respecting the individuality of your team members can boost team performance. The trick is to balance individual needs against team goals by promoting collaboration over collectivism. Working together doesn’t mean always doing the same thing or having the same ideas. In fact, cross-functional teams rely on the strengths of each individual in the group and appreciate a diversity of opinions and backgrounds. That’s why Augment believes in tools that allow every participant to contribute ideas without getting screened out by a collectivist point of view. “Trello fosters participation among all the stakeholders in the project,” says Lindsay Boyajian, chief marketing officer at Augment, which develops augmented reality experiences to drive sales and engagement. “Team members can communicate, manage and monitor on-going projects.”
Solo operators claim that working alone delivers quicker results while teams waver between opinions for too long. But the truth is that teams can bring multiple perspectives to the table faster than a single individual. This means more innovation, faster. And to ensure that this is not at the cost of agility, set up processes around quick decision making and execution. University of Pennsylvania’s Prevention Research Center (UPenn PRC) brings together Penn researchers from a variety of disciplines to conduct innovative public health and disease management research. UPenn PRC sped up execution time by using SignEasy to get consent forms signed by participants faster. This enabled researchers to finish their fieldwork faster and organize their study documents better.
Use technology to speed up processes and paperwork, enable quick feedback and approvals, and dispel any misconceptions about teamwork slowing down performance. Aside from giving teams a quick way to sign and send documents, SignEasy is also a great collaboration app that makes it a breeze to get a document signed by anyone remotely using the new Request Signature feature.
Successful teams are all about collaboration, but they do not let it get in the way of individuality and productivity. It does not have to be a tricky balancing act, not when you are equipped with a few ground rules and some great technology.