Harriet Thacker, account manager at RizkMcCay, a 15-strong creative design and strategic marketing agency based in the Midlands, discusses the importance of collaboration in their sector and how the company has introduced new ways of working to improve communication and teamwork.
The term ‘collaborative working’ is a popular term in business – particularly in creative disciplines or teams focused on creative outputs. But what does it actually mean to work collaboratively and how can you improve collaboration within your business and with customers?
For many entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, growth is something that can happen very quickly and without the right foundations, it can be a struggle to get to a place where there is balance in your team.
Why is collaboration important?
Ultimately, in the creative design and strategic marketing field, we need collaboration: the sharing of ideas and ways of working is what makes us not only achieve the best possible results for businesses but also helps us find ways of improving our practices.
How to improve communication and teamwork
Regardless of the size of your business, having a team or set of teams that are able to work together but share best practice in an efficient way is what you want to achieve.
Introduce daily stand-up meetings
We’ve tried a number of things to improve collaboration and teamwork but most recently we introduced daily stand-up meetings. The concept is simple: the meeting happens every day, at the same time, in the same place and everyone stands up. If you are late, the meeting goes on (regardless of seniority) and each meeting lasts between 5 and 15 minutes with no phones or devices allowed.
Research studies have shown that meetings held where participants sit down are proven to last 63% longer than a stand-up meeting. Generally speaking, as human beings, we’re more comfortable sitting down and begin to relax so therefore the meeting takes longer. However, if we’re standing, it forces us to get to the point quicker as people are out of their comfort zone.
The daily stand-up meeting also doesn’t focus on the past but what’s happening on that day. Neither are they a chance to have a moan about the past or discuss something that went wrong. It is an opportunity for our team(s) to make strategic business links between projects and share knowledge. Otherwise you end up with an organisation where people and teams work in silos and there is no open line of communication.
As a 15-strong team at RizkMcCay, clearly we’ve made daily stand-up meetings work for our business and others might be sceptical about their impact. The real point here is you have to shape the meetings to suit your organisation but this is one way of working that has significantly improved our communication and teamwork.
Breakdown hierarchies – everyone is equal
Hierarchies can cause problems – particularly in bureaucratic organisations. When it comes to discussing a new service, product or way of working, empowering everyone in the team to contribute is important. It’s no secret that if you allow employees to take ownership and responsibility within their role, this increases happiness and wellbeing and therefore productivity.
When working in teams on a new idea or concept, you can aim to split people up so that similar levels within the hierarchy only work together or lay down the law firmly that no idea is a bad one. It can be easy to slip into a culture whereby staff come up with ideas only to appease a senior member of staff, which essentially means your ideas fundamentally won’t be original. Thinking must remain free, spontaneous and free of any negativity or judgment. Rank does not equate to good ideas.
Reward team efforts
Rarely does a solution to a problem come from one person and even one individual appears to be the lead, it’s important to recognise the efforts of the team. Yes, individual credit is key in personal appraisals but where collaboration and teamwork within a business is concerned, concentrate on motivating the entire team.
Whether you’re a start-up, growing business or mid-sized company, setting the foundations to inspire teams to collaborate, work together and work towards a common goal is by no means an easy task.
Ultimately, you must do what suits your business but having strong foundations for collaborative working will help your organisation prosper in the modern age.
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