3 Ways for Small Business Owners To Improve Company-Wide Collaboration

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If you own a small business, you’re keenly aware of every employee’s role in your enterprise. What may be missing, though, are the significant gains that come from group efforts. Consider these ideas from Knowledge Vault for transforming your company culture into one where everyone works separately (or even remotely) to one that shifts from solo work to collaborative work with ease.

1. Foster a Pro-Communication Culture

It should go without saying that if you want your employees to feel comfortable sharing ideas and offering constructive critiques, you should foster an environment of open communication, non-judgmental discourse, and respect. Positivity begins with the business owners and leaders, but it’s also reinforced by your meetings, training, company policies, and feedback you give to your employees.

If your employees work in the office, do your best to create a comfortable physical environment. If your employees are remote-only or hybrid teams, ensure that they have what they need to thrive including proper office equipment and a way to communicate with everyone. This could include Slack or another popular workplace messenger app to ensure that no one gets left out of a discussion.

It’s also important that you and your team are open to hear difficult feedback from coworkers, including points like, they don’t feel heard, are not comfortable with one another, or simply don’t trust each other. You cannot address problems if you don’t know they exist, so this kind of open communication is vital, even if it is painful. Ask one another how you can gain each other’s trust, and own up to your mistakes. Never make excuses.

2. Consider Your Collaborative Platforms

The fact that life has increasingly moved online in the past decade has increased the need for high-quality virtual platforms and messaging systems. Consider the size of your entire company as well as the usual number of people in your collaborative teams to determine which platforms will suit your business.

Here are a few options that are especially suited to remote or hybrid work:

  • Zoom: you likely know and love (or hate!) this virtual meeting platform. Video calls are necessary in the age of remote work, and they can often save an employee who has to stay home with a sick child or care for an aging relative.
  • Slack: this app is essential for day-to-day communication with your office staff as well as for collaborative efforts in smaller teams. 
  • Trello: make project management easier by using a visual board to envision everyone’s duties and due dates. Everyone is able to see their personal to-do list and understand where the project is in terms of completion.
  • Workfront: collaborate in real time with this project management software that also comes with some handy automation features.

3. Keep Your Project Teams Small

LinkedIn reports that creating teams of over 15 individuals (although 10 is better) can decrease employees’ motivation to collaborate and work as a group. Too-large groups result in a few hardworking employees assigning duties to the rest of the group and picking up slack. It may also cause a phenomenon where some employees render themselves invisible by not communicating or offering any input — and letting others do the heavy lifting for them.

Make it a point to split large teams into small groups. In groups of three to eight, your employees have more incentive to speak up and work with their teammates. The Art of Teamwork recommends assigning five or six employees to a collaborative team. Employees may feel more comfortable collaborating and expressing their thoughts when working in smaller groups as well.

Finally, take the time to cultivate healthy communication practices. Company culture isn’t invented overnight. It takes time to build, and it takes into account your employees’ personalities, your leadership style, and your vision for the future. If you feel that your business isn’t as collaborative as you had wished it would be, use the tips listed here to adjust to a culture that works for everyone.

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Brought to you by Lisa Walker

Edited by Temitope Adelekan