Collaborative Work Management Guide

Collaborative Work Skills

Top Collaborative Work Skills

Collaborative work skills can be instrumental for a productive workplace, but teamwork alone doesn’t guarantee results. 92% of people claim that collaboration with their teammates could be improved, so the likelihood is that even if you already implement collaborative measures, there’s room for improvement.

The focus of this section will be on fostering a work environment based on collaborative principles and effective collaboration skills. Developing an idea of what makes individuals click within a team, department, or organization can create streamlined workflows and improve levels of employee engagement.

What are the most effective collaboration skills?

The top cross-functional collaboration skills encourage the cross-pollination of ideas on a company-wide level. They are skills that can prove critical to the swift completion of projects and the cooperation of many individuals.

Clear communication

If you prioritize one skill for your employees and team members, it should be communication. Clear messaging helps promote cross-team collaboration skills. Communication is the chain that links teams together, regardless of distance or project type. If one team member can’t voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions in a group dynamic, the connection may be severed, and any sense of team cohesion collapses with it.

The current work climate is trending towards remote work. Professionals who discovered it during the pandemic are reluctant to give up the freedom and return to the traditional office-based 9-5. 

One of the most significant changes of this shift in the work model is in communication: 56% of employees say that the biggest change since working remotely has been how they communicate. You can’t afford to ignore this key collaborative skill, as a diminishing ability to communicate can lead to poor performance and project management.

Next steps:

Audit your current communication methods and survey employees across the company to identify problem areas. If the issue is speed, and employees state that they are often waiting for email responses to take the next steps, perhaps introducing a project management tool could bridge that gap and hasten communication.

Wrike offers a communication plan template you can use to encourage constant communication between coworkers throughout a project. It can help you meet stakeholder expectations and promote harmonious teamwork to ensure you hit your estimated due dates.

Individual work ethic

While work ethic can mean something different to every individual, it’s an important skill to cultivate to thrive in a collaborative context. Teamwork is mainly about the collective, the sum of the individual parts, yet each team member must pull their weight.

Fortunately, there’s evidence to suggest that putting employees in teams can bring about a greater sense of engagement with the work. The shared purpose and effort can help individuals shine in a team dynamic, perhaps more so than they would if they were working alone.

According to a global workplace study in 2020, employees who work in teams are 2.6 times more likely to be ‘Fully Engaged.’ The study, carried out by ADP Research Institute, defined ‘Fully Engaged’ as the employee’s willingness to ‘give their all to their team and organization’. As such, encouraging collaboration in the workplace could be enough to foster greater engagement in your employees as they find purpose in working as part of a team. 

Next steps:

To promote individual work ethic, set up teams that share goals and projects throughout your organization. The results of the ADP study also suggest that trust in the team leader has a positive impact on engagement. You could refine your hiring and selection process to help you identify the most qualified candidates to lead teams within your company to success.

Perhaps you could also make the argument that a leader who is considered trustworthy and approachable by their peers counts for more than other characteristics if employee engagement is the goal.

Synergistic thinking

We’ve established that both the team unit as a whole and the individuals that comprise it are essential for effective collaboration. However, synergistic thinking should rank highly among the most important collaborative problem-solving skills.

Synergy can be a tricky concept to pin down, as it’s often challenging to identify what exactly makes a group of individuals click and work well together. One of the most important contributors to a synergistic environment, though, is mindset. 

Team members need to feel that their input is valued in the group and not instantly discarded. An environment in which each individual feels as if their contribution is taken on board is one in which synergy is reachable. Rather than looking at problems through the lens of what you have to offer, to promote synergy, you should break down barriers and forget the ‘you vs. them’ dynamic that often dictates teamwork.

If you can get your whole team on the same page and refrain from putting any one member’s opinions on a pedestal, you can create a workplace conducive to synergistic thinking.

Next steps:

From the outset, make sure every individual that forms part of the team realizes that their contribution is critical to the success of the project. Discard the ‘you against them’ mindset and, instead, encourage open discussion where all input is welcome. 

As outlined in the case of the individual work ethic, an open-minded team leader could be your best option for fostering this collaborative work skill.

Collaboration isn’t possible without individual and team effort, and the skills outlined in this section will help everything come together. Without clear communication, work ethic, and synergistic thinking, you’ll struggle to reach a level of cohesion that’s necessary for effective workplace collaboration.

Further reading
blog post

How to Avoid Poor Communication Skills at Work

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Why Is Collaboration Important in Leadership?

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What Is Interprofessional Collaboration?

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What Are the Disadvantages of Collaboration?